‘Vigilante mob’ blocked in two men they believed were ‘acting suspiciously’
Gardaí withdrew charges of trespassing against two men during a court hearing on the charges at Castlebar District Court last Wednesday.
Slawomir Deka of 52, Whitehorse Lane, Turlough Road, Castlebar and Mariusz Mocek of 25, Heather Vale, Snugboro, Castlebar, were both charged with trespassing on the property of Christy Somerville at Glasgort, Clogher, Claremorris, on June 9 last.
During the court hearing Judge Mary Devins (pictured) expressed a number of reservations about the prosecution case after hearing 999 calls made by the defendants, who are Polish nationals. Defending solicitor Cathy McDarby claimed the calls showed her clients to be ‘more sinned against than sinning’.
A subsequent admission by Garda Sharon Casserley that she had arrested Mr Deka under the Public Order Act, despite the arrest taking place on private property, furthered weakened the case. Superintendent JJ Lee withdrew the prosecution.
At the outset of the case, Christy Somerville told the court that he and his family had been at his daughter’s Christening reception at the nearby Corley’s Pub in Ballintubber on the date in question. He said he had left the function at approximately 11pm and returned home with his wife and children.
The court heard that Mr Somerville lives down a private road on which two houses – his family’s and his father’s – are located. He told the court that his home had been burgled the week before, and that on returning home he could see car lights at his father’s house. His father was still in Corley’s. He said he was suspicious, given recent events, and also given the late hour.
Mr Somerville said he stopped his car near the car at his father’s house, got out and asked the two men in the car what they were doing on the road. They said they were lost. He said that he then called some family members and his wife rang the Gardaí. Shortly afterwards up to ten people, comprised of his brothers and brothers-in-law, arrived.
Ms McDarby said that her clients got lost, and that they had been looking to go from a scrapyard in Belcarra to Ballinrobe. She added that there was no sign suggesting that the road was private. She said both clients were leaving at the time. Mr Somerville said his road was not on the way to Ballinrobe.
Ms McDarby said that the first call to Gardaí was made by her clients ‘pleading for help’ as they were ‘terrified’. She put it to Mr Somerville that he could be heard ‘roaring and shouting’ on the 999 calls. He said he was ‘upset’.
Ms McDarby said that the Somervilles and their brothers-in-law had been referred to as ‘a vigilante mob’ by the 999 operator. Gardaí admitted that threats made to the two defendants, which could be heard on the 999 call, included ‘I’ll blow you to f***ing bits’. The two men were also told that if they ever came up the road again they ‘would not leave here alive’.
Ms McDarby asked Mr Somerville if Gardaí had told him, over the phone, to let the two men go. He said they had, but that he said he would wait until the Gardaí arrived.
Questioning why a 999 call from the Somervilles was not produced to the court, Judge Mary Devins criticised the prosecution, saying it was their job to produce the entire picture before the court.
Cathy McDarby questioned why Gardaí did not take the names of any of the ten people who were detaining the two Polish nationals at Glasgort, considering Gardaí had heard of the threats made in the 999 calls by this stage. Garda Casserley said that when she arrived that she received a complaint from Christy Somerville and that the two defendants were invited to make statements but did not.
Judge Devins said that the charge was trespassing ‘in such a manner as to cause fear to another person’ but that the prosecution had not outlined any fear on behalf of Mr Somerville. When Judge heard that Mr Deka had been arrested under the Public Order Act, despite the location being private property, she rose from the bench for a short recess to allow the prosecution to consider its position. When she returned, Superintendent Lee withdrew the charges against both men.