Suspended sentence for jealous attacker

A Laois man who torched his ex-girlfriend’s car when he saw another man in her house has received a two-year suspended sentence and 200 hours' community service.

John Farrell (aged 26) also smashed in the windows of her flat after getting into an argument with the man. Judge Katherine Delahunt said Farrell’s action could only be described as “a complete moment of madness”.

She said that the breakdown of the relationship between Farrell and his girlfriend and his inebriated state offered no excuse for his actions but accepted that it was “totally out of character” for him to behave in such a way.

Judge Delahunt ordered that Farrell continue with alcohol counseling and pay the sum of €5,000 to his ex-girlfriend by way of compensation for the damage done to her car.

Farrell of Hawthorn Way, Esker Hills, Portlaoise pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of criminal damage at Finn Street, Dublin 7 on April 19, 2009.

Garda Richard Keegan told prosecuting counsel, Ms Fiona McGowan BL, that Farrell had been drinking heavily before he went to his ex-girlfriend’s house. On arrival he saw the outline of a male through the door and began kicking it.

When the door was opened he forced his way in and there was an argument between Farrell and the man. Farrell went outside and picked up a plank which he used to smash the downstairs window. He then threw a bottle through the upstairs window.

Gardaí arrived and noted the burning car was dangerously close to the house and a fire brigade was alerted. When they were speaking with the woman, Farrell rang her phone and one of the gardaí answered it.

Farrell assumed it was the woman’s male companion on the phone and told the garda that he was lucky he did not do more damage.

The woman stated in her victim impact report that she was forced to move house after the incident and also lost her job because it required the use of her car, which had been totally destroyed.

Farrell was arrested days later after he came to the garda station voluntarily and made full admissions in interview.

“I’m crazy for her and would do anything for her,” he said of his ex-girlfriend. The court heard he has five previous convictions, all minor traffic offences.

Defence counsel, Mr Pieter Le Vert BL, said his client rarely drank but was a “bad drunk” when he did. He said he was attending counseling at present, was living in Laois with his mother and was highly remorseful for his actions.


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