Man threatens to destroy new €5m Traveller facility

A father-of-nine threatened to destroy a new €5 million Traveller housing facility in Cork city and told gardaí: “We’ll make your lives hell in the new site.”

The threat was made after Denis Stokes, 39, scattered his four horses on to a public road. As gardaí tried to round them up, the accused referred to a new Traveller housing development at St Anthony’s Park in Hollyhill /Knocknaheeny. He said: “We’ll cause more hassle and damage up there.”

However, the accused who lives at Bay 12, the halting site, Knocknaheeny, gave an undertaking to Cork District Court not to cause damage.

Inspector Gary McPolin said gardaí were extremely concerned about any such threats. He told the court that residents are shortly going from a halting site to a new estate — St Anthony’s Park — that cost over €5m to build. “We hope it would be respected,” he said.

The facility remains vacant at present but there has been 24-hour security in the area.

Insp McPolin said gardaí were reliably informed of feelings running high with there being some angst associated with the move to the new residential area at St Anthony’s.

Judge Olann Kelleher warned the accused that he could not take the law into his own hands.

The threat of damage was made by Stokes on April 15 last when Garda Liam Lingane and colleagues were rounding up four loose horses at Shanakiel.

Stokes arrived at the scene and told gardaí: “You are not taking my fucking horses.”

Garda Lingane directed him to leave the scene and he refused to go. Stokes ran at the horses and caused them to scatter on the public road. He then made the threat about making the guards’ lives hell at the new facility and causing damage.

Emmet Boyle, solicitor, said other horses that ended up in the animal pound recently had been destroyed and Stokes was extremely concerned about that happening to his horses.

“A red mist descended on him and he did exactly what was complained of,” the solicitor conceded. “He was very wrong and it was very slack behaviour.”

Referring to the threat to cause damage, Judge Kelleher asked Stokes if he would give an undertaking not to behave in that way.

The defendant said he promised that would not happen and said he was a man of his word.

“If you break your word you will go to Cork prison if there is any trouble of any description,” the judge said.

Stokes said: “I promise you, your honour, there will be no breaking of words.”

Judge Kelleher said he would defer the matter until June 10 to see how Stokes would behave in the interim, and for a report on his suitability for community service on charges relating to his refusal to leave the area and threatening behaviour.

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