Judge Patrick Durcan made the order at Killaloe District Court yesterday that Michael Gerard Broe appear before him in Ennis next Wednesday.
This followed solicitor Jennifer Donovan telling Judge Durcan that “the unrelenting and sustained campaign” by Michael Gerard Broe over four to five years against her client, Kevin O’Connor and his family included numerous abusive Facebook messages.
Ms Donovan said that one Facebook message from Mr Broe directed at 54-year-old Kevin O’Connor referred to his dead brother’s ashes being “down the gutter”.
She said that all members of the O’Connor family were subjected to “physical abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse and property damage” by Mr Broe.
Ms Donovan said the O’Connors reported to the gardaí up to 50 times various forms of abuse alleged to be perpetrated by Mr Broe.
Ms Donovan said that the background to the abusive campaign was the run-up to a trial — and its aftermath — where a cousin of Mr Broe’s was jailed for four years.
Ms Donovan said that one of the Facebook messages from Mr Broe read: “Yer gonna get it a lot sooner than you think, ye dirty rat bastards.”
Mr Broe’s campaign of abuse came to light yesterday after his victim, Kevin O’Connor, admitted to taking the law into his own hands in an effort to the put a stop to the campaign of abuse.
In the case, Mr O’Connor pleaded guilty to the criminal damage of the Broes’ front door at their home at St Luas Villas, Killaloe, on March 16, 2015.
Garda David Moore said that Mr O’Connor of Ballina Quay, Ballina, engaged in “a scare tactic” on March 16, 2015, when he pulled up in a convoy of three vehicles outside the Broe house and directed two hooded individuals to break in the door and look for Mr Broe.
Garda Moore said only Mr Broe’s 17-year-old sister and two younger brothers, aged nine and seven, were home at the time. He said that €300 worth of damage was caused to the door.and this compensation was paid yesterday by Mr O’Connor.
Garda Moore said that the 17-year-old girl saw the two individuals at the bottom of the stairs at 10.30pm before they fled after she said she was calling the gardaí.
Ms Donovan said that Mr O’Connor “was at the end of his tether”. She said that Mr O’Connor has no previous convictions and didn’t know that the only people at the Broe home were children.
She said: “He is very sorry that there were children in the house. He hadn’t intended that at all. It was an absolute act of desperation, he just wanted it to stop. He wanted to send a warning. He had no intention that there would be anyone hurt and the abuse has stopped since that night.”
Det Garda John Mulvihill said gardaí accepted the evidence on provocation presented by Ms Donovan.
Judge Durcan said, normally, he would be imposing a substantial prison term on Mr O’Connor. However, he said after hearing the uncontested background presented by Ms Donovan, he accepted Mr O’Connor “reached cracking point and you did a terrible thing on the night in question”.
Judge Durcan said his order binding Mr O’Connor to the peace for two years reflects his understanding of the case and what drove Mr O’Connor to the brink.
Judge Durcan adjourned the case to next Wednesday for Mr Broe, to appear before him to argue why he shouldn’t be bound to the peace: “It is a very serious matter. Mr Broe has subjected the O’Connor family to a reign of abuse and has engaged in despicable behaviour.”