Man accused of vandalising Luke Kelly statue disputes Garda evidence as he is granted bail

Man accused of vandalising Luke Kelly statue disputes Garda evidence as he is granted bail

Michael Dunne, with an address at Sean McDermott Street, Dublin was arrested on Monday. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

A 47-year-old man accused of carrying out a graffiti attack on a Luke Kelly statue has been ordered to stay away from sculptures of the legendary Dubliners singer.

Gardaí investigated after paint was daubed on the statue in the Guild Street area of Dublin 1 on Sunday evening.

Michael Dunne, with an address at Sean McDermott Street, Dublin was arrested on Monday and held at Store Street Garda station where he was charged with criminal damage.

He was held overnight and brought to appear before Judge Ann Ryan at Dublin District Court today.

He was granted bail and told he must appear again on September 8 next for directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in relation to his trial venue.

Garda David Kelly told Judge Ryan the accused made no reply when charged.

Objecting to bail, he said the offence, if the case goes to the circuit court, can carry a maximum 10-year sentence and a fine of up to €10,000.

He said there was CCTV footage of the incident and Mr Dunne’s movements in the area. The statue was sprayed with blue paint at about 4.45pm.

Gardaí have 13 clips of video evidence including footage from Mr Dunne’s dwelling.

“The accused was in the general area of the offence for a period of time before and was observed returning to his home address,” Garda Kelly said.

He alleged Mr Dunne’s clothes matched those of the person who damaged the statue.

A community garda identified Mr Dunne, the court was told.

His home was searched and clothing was seized, Garda Kelly said.

He agreed with defence solicitor Jenny McGeever that her client lived the general area of the incident, “not a huge distance from it”.

Questioned further, he conceded that the accused was not the only male in the area at the time and there was nothing unusual about the clothing of the person who committed the offence.

He also agreed the accused, during his interview, pointed out the trousers of the person in the footage did not match the clothes seized.

Garda Kelly accepted that no paint residue was found on the clothing seized at his home, but he said the man in the CCTV footage was holding the spray can away from his person.

Pleading for bail, the solicitor said her client lived in supported accommodation and was in a long-term relationship. He was on social welfare and not a man of means, she submitted.

Ms McGeever said press coverage had built up momentum in the matter and she asked the court to set aside the notoriety of the case.

The Luke Kelly statue after it was vandalised for the seventh time on Sunday.
The Luke Kelly statue after it was vandalised for the seventh time on Sunday.

It was not a clear-cut case and he had a right to bail, she argued. “The prosecution should proceed very warily in terms of having cracked this nut,” she said.

Mr Dunne told the court, “no problem at all” when asked if he would obey bail terms and added, “oh yes” when asked if he would religiously stick to them.

Granting bail in his own bond of €200, Judge Ryan said the accused enjoyed the presumption of innocence.

She noted he disputed evidence about the clothes.

The offence, in its own right was minor, and it was more than likely the DPP will direct trial in the district court, she remarked.

She ordered the accused to stay away from the Luke Kelly statue at Guild Street, and she also added that he must not go near another statue of the singer at St Stephen's Green. He was ordered to sign on three days a week at Store Street Garda station, and to be sober and of good behaviour in public.

Legal aid was granted.

The 1.8m-high marble statue, with copper wire used for The Dubliners singer’s distinctive beard and hair, was designed by artist Vera Klute.

It was unveiled in January 2019 to mark the 35th anniversary of his death, in an area close to where the musician grew up.

The artwork sits at the corner of Guild Street and Sheriff Street, near the mouth of the Royal Canal in Dublin.

It is one of two sculptures of the musician in city centre, with the other one located near St Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, that have been vandalised recently.

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