A 75-year-old farmer who admitted harassing an auctioneer following an auction where he paid €605,000 for 48 acres of land has been given a suspended sentence.
He was also fined €3,000 and told to have “no contact whatsoever” with the auctioneer — unless it is through someone else and for business reasons.
Passing sentence on bachelor farmer Patrick Sherlock, of Kells Rd, Collon, Co Louth, Judge Donagh McDonagh said the case had a “resonance”, with other cases and “literacy and artistic works involving land and fields”.
Sherlock admitted harassment of auctioneer Paddy Watters at his business on Ardee St, Collon, between May 8 and Aug 9, 2012m and between Aug 31, 2012, and Jan 1 this year.
Dundalk Circuit Court heard that prior to the auction in 2008, the families had been friendly.
The court heard Sherlock had gone to Mr Watters’ office on a number of occasions and shouted verbal abuse at him, accusing him of not knowing “how to conduct an auction”, calling him “a bastard”, and threatening that if the defendant met him on the road, he would “drive across you and say I never saw you”.
He told him “you should have been drowned at birth”, and accused him of costing him up to €500,000.
Garda Sgt David Byrne said Sherlock still holds a grievance over the way the auction was conducted.
Irene Sands, defending, said her instructions were that Sherlock’s brother James, who is 73 and whom he lives with and cares for, was the highest bidder at €575,000.
She said it then transpired in the pub that another man had put in a €25,000 higher bid and the defendant then bid on the land, securing it for €605,000.
Counsel said the land is in his brother’s name because the defendant did not have the money for it.
Judge McDonagh said the case stemmed from Mr Sherlock’s “desire to stop”, the other man from getting the lands.
He said the defendant’s brother had walked away from the auction and the defendant had “decided he will wade in and bid €605,000 of somebody else’s money”. He had behaved “in an utterly unacceptable fashion”, towards the auctioneer.
He imposed a three-year jail term but suspended it for five years on his entering a good behaviour bond.
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