By Conor Kane
International boxer Michael O’Reilly has been given a five-month prison sentence after admitting causing criminal damage to a caravan following an engagement party last year.
The sentence was imposed on O’Reilly (24) from Mountrath, Laois, at Thurles district court on Tuesday but he walked free from court pending an appeal to the circuit court.
His father, Michael O’Reilly Snr (45) of Portlaoise was given a three-month prison term for causing criminal damage during the same incident on April 18, 2016, but also went free after giving notice of an appeal.
A brother, James O’Reilly (18) of Portlaoise was bound to the peace for a year, for criminal damage, while a bench warrant was issued for another other, Bernard (24) who also admitted criminal damage but has left the jurisdiction for the UK since evidence was heard last June.
Father-of-three Michael O’Reilly was due to fight for Ireland in the Rio Olympics last year but sent home on the eve of the games when it was confirmed that he had failed a drugs test before leaving this country for the event.
He said after Tuesday’s court proceedings that he was “not commenting” on the possibility of making a boxing comeback but confirmed that he was appealing the prison sentence imposed on him by Judge Elizabeth MacGrath for criminal damage.
The boxer pleaded guilty in June to a single count of causing criminal damage to a caravan on April 18 of 2016.
The case was adjourned on that occasion to allow the defendants bring compensation to court: €879 for damage to a Nissan Micra, €664 for damage to a Citroen, while the cost of damage to a caravan was disputed.
The court heard on Tuesday that the injured parties in the case put the damage to the caravan at €7,260 but defence solicitor Philip Meagher, for Michael O’Reilly Snr and James O’Reilly, said his clients would place it at “no more than €1,000”. They had done a Google search for a similar caravan and found one for sale in the UK for £1,500 Stg. They had consulted with three or four people in the trade in Ireland about getting an independent valuation for repairs, “but the moment they heard the background to the matter and why the valuation was required, they indicated that they would prefer to stay away from the matter,” Mr Meagher said.
Michael O’Reilly Snr had brought €150 in compensation to court. He had bought a vehicle for conversion into a family car but ended up with a Revenue debt of €3,000 as a result, the court heard. “He has been dealing with that particular debt over the last number of months” and has sought “the help of a loan shark, for want of a better phrase, to fund some of that”.
JJ Fitzgerald, solicitor for Michael O’Reilly Jnr, said his client had brought €100 to court. It would have been more, but his wife recently gave birth to their third child “and a lot of that money went on the baby expenses”.
Judge MacGrath said the amount of compensation offered by the defendants was “totally inadequate” and “totally unacceptable”.
After hearing that Michael O’Reilly Jnr had 37 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic offences but also for theft and fraud and public order, she imposed a five-month prison sentence.
Michael O’Reilly Snr had two previous convictions, for minor road traffic matters, and received a three-month sentence.
“I have given the parties a way to avoid a custodial sentence by dealing with it in a particular way, and this hasn’t happened,” Judge MacGrath said.
Both Michael O’Reilly Snr and Jnr indicated they intended to appeal the sentences and recognisances were fixed on their own bonds of €500 each.
The court heard in June that the defendants had been attending an engagement party in Littleton in Co Tipperary and the gardaí were called to an incident at 5am.
Michael O’Reilly Snr and his sons were ordered to leave the area earlier, and did so, but as they passed an area where their relatives, the Doyle family, had caravans parked they started throwing rocks and stones over the fence.
There was shouting and stones and bottles were also thrown from the other side of the offence. During the incident, damage was caused to a caravan which was “excessive,” the court heard in June.