Architect denies harassing his neighbours

An architect denied harassing neighbours when they built an extension to their home by playing music so loud it was like an earthquake, staring at them, or kicking a football repeatedly against a wall.

Architect denies harassing his neighbours

David Mulligan pleaded not guilty to harassing John and Gwenda Hughes between June 1, 2012, and March 13, 2014.

Mr Mulligan, aged 38, told gardaí: “They have threatened to kill my family pet.”

Ms Hughes told Inspector Adrian Gamble that when they built an extension at the rear of their home at Ashford Court in Grange, Douglas, Cork, Mr Mulligan, allegedly threatened to make their lives a living hell.

“When I would come home after a 12-hour shift, he would play loud music against the wall,” she said. “This went on for months, maybe a year. He started staring in my back window. He was watching me feeding my baby. I got a fright, I didn’t know what to do.

“[Another day] I was putting my baby in the car, he was taking pictures of me with his phone.

“He is just staring, grinning like he is going to do something. It started when we built our extension about five years ago.

“I am very stressed. I cannot relax in my own home. All we did was build an extension.”

Gwenda and David Hughes at court. Pic: Larry Cummins
Gwenda and David Hughes at court. Pic: Larry Cummins

Frank Buttimer, solicitor for Mr Mulligan, said in cross-examination: “You are trying to portray him as a sinister, unpleasant, and threatening individual. You are trying to portray him as some kind of weirdo.”

She replied: “I am not calling anybody a weirdo. He should just go on and mind his own business.”

Mr Buttimer said the defendant was a respected officer of the local residents’ association and that this was “a most regrettable issue of disharmony between neighbours”.

Mr Mulligan objected to planning permission and appealed the granted permission to An Bord Pleanála. He found the construction period phenomenally disruptive when he had not a scintilla of peace, said Mr Buttimer.

“You did not like that he objected and appealed, and he kept an eye on what was going on and had to do a certain number of things and you did not like it,” said Mr Buttimer.

Mr Hughes recalled a day when Mr Mulligan allegedly approached him outside the houses. Mr Hughes told the court: “He was very angry, very red in the face, frothing at the mouth saying: ‘I want your house insurance number.’ I said: ‘You need to speak to the builders.’

“My wife was very upset, she was crying. He said: ‘I am going to make your effing life a bloody misery in the future.’

“This harassment began with music playing every evening for a while. It was like the same CD. It would remind you of an earthquake starting. The glasses were shaking on top of the cupboard.

“There would be thumping of a ball against a wall. It would continue for an hour or an hour and a half. The ball was being kicked constantly against the wall where our couch was.

“He would sit in the car and stare at me.”

Mr Buttimer said to Mr Hughes that he and his family moved out for the year of the construction and that it was very disruptive of Mr Mulligan’s life.

“I did not cause any grief to him,” Mr Hughes said.

Mr Buttimer said: “You are wrong. Your activity has caused stunning grief — your building activities and your accusations.”

Mr Hughes said: “You have no idea of the distress he caused to me and my family.”

Cross-examined on the kicking of the ball and the playing of the music, Mr Hughes said he could not say who was kicking the ball and turning up the music at the various times. Ms Hughes could not say who was responsible either. Mr Buttimer said such actions were denied.

Mr Buttimer produced photographs purporting to show Mr Hughes looking into Mr Mulligan’s property, commenting: “The staring is a mutual activity.” Mr Hughes said:“I would not say it is mutual.”

Mr Mulligan told Garda John Deasy that he did not harass his neighbours and instead claimed: “They have threatened to kill my family pet.”

Garda Deasy said the Director of Public Prosecutions examined a complaint on this matter but recommended that nobody be prosecuted.

Builder Declan O’Callaghan said that when he was working on the Hughes’ extension one day Mr Mulligan said to him: “What Mr Hughes does not realise is that he has to live alongside me for the rest of his life.”

Mr O’Callaghan said Mr Mulligan said this “in a kind of a threatening manner”.

Judge Aingil Ní Chondúin said after hearing only the prosecution evidence: “I have only heard one side of the story and there are two sides to every story. The accused has a right to have his side of the case heard and I cannot wait to hear it.”

Next Tuesday, a date will be set for the defence evidence to be heard at Cork District Court.

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