Man terrifies woman after attacking car with hatchet

Joe Craig. Picture: North West Newspix

A man who left a woman terrified after attacking her car with a hatchet in a row over a football match has paid her almost €3,000 in compensation.

Joe Craig, aged 39, appeared at Letterkenny District Court in Donegal in what the court heard was actually a case of mistaken identity.

Craig was charged with causing more than €2,300 worth of criminal damage to the white BMW in Letterkenny on April 19, 2017.

He attacked the car after being provoked by another man who had invited him to sort out a matter outside St Eunan’s Cathedral in Letterkenny. The man had called to Craig’s home at 11 Ard O’Donnell in Letterkenny following a dispute over a football match.

Craig told the man to go away but he then began to mock Craig’s sister who had died tragically.

The man invited Craig to come down to the town and sort the matter out. Craig said he foolishly accepted the invite in the heat of the moment.

When he went down, a verbal argument began and the man claimed his wife was sitting in his car nearby at Castle St.

Craig then proceeded to attack the car with a hatchet causing €2,309 of damage after smashing a headlight and other damage.

He soon realised it was not his rival’s car and sat on a nearby bench until gardaí arrived and he was arrested.

Craig’s solicitor, Kieran Dillon, said his client had no previous convictions and that he was very apologetic for what had happened.

Mr Dillon said: “He was in a bad place because of the loss of his sister. The other party was aware of this and he made these remarks.

“This has festered and then it just exploded. He was very apologetic when he realised he had wronged this woman.”

Judge Paul Kelly said: “This is what happens when you take the law into your own hands.”

Judge Kelly noted that this was a very traumatic experience for the injured party and the fact it resulted from a case of mistaken identity was “not of much comfort”.

He asked the Probation Services to engage with the defendant and adjourned the case until April 29.

He also said he would like to know the attitude of the injured party and said he thought it important that she had sight of the defendant’s letter of apology.

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