Piece of heaven turned to 'hell' by neighbour, court is told
A GRANDFATHER who relocated after he retired told a court he thought he was "coming to a piece of heaven but it turned out to be a piece of hell".
Benjamin Noonan (69) said he and his wife Angela had been subjected to "constant harassment and intimidation" by their neighbour since they moved from Cork to Co Kerry three years ago.
He told Killarney District Court that dog excrement and stale bread had been thrown at his house and that his next-door neighbour had discharged a shotgun while his grandchildren were playing outside.
He said things got so bad his wife suffered a breakdown and "went missing" for four days.
Mr Noonan was giving evidence at a District Court appeal against a decision by the gardai to refuse to grant a firearm licence to his neighbour, Declan O'Donoghue (32), from Dromcarbon, Headford, Killarney.
Mr O'Donoghue, a married father-of-one, said he had been the holder of a firearm certificate for the past 15 years and that he had never had any trouble renewing it before.
He had made a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman which was rejected, the court heard.
His court appeal was also dismissed yesterday.
Mr Noonan told the court that he purchased a house that had been built on O'Donoghue's father's land and he and his wife moved to Kerry in September 2007.
"We haven't had one peaceful day since we moved in," he told the court. "I thought I was coming to a piece of heaven but, as it turned out, it was a piece of hell. It has been going on for 365 days a year and we're prisoners in our own home."
Mr Noonan said that on June 9, 2008 his two grandchildren, who were aged eight and four at the time, came running in from play when they heard a loud bang. He went outside and saw Mr O'Donoghue crossing the road with a shotgun and saw him pick up a crow.
Mr O'Donoghue admitted shooting the crow, but said he had not seen any children in the vicinity at the time and had aimed the gun in the opposite direction to the Noonans' house.
One week after the crow-shooting incident, Mr Noonan claimed Mr O'Donoghue stood outside his house shouting, "Noonan and Garda O'Mahony (a reference to Gda John O'Mahony of Barraduff gardai) don't know who I am."
He said he understood this to mean that Mr O'Donoghue was claiming to know important people within the gardai.
"My wife was so upset she took off for four days. This is a woman I've known for 47 years and been married to for 42."
On another occasion, Mr Noonan said that as he and his wife drove past O'Donoghue's house he was taunting them.
"My wife told me 'I can't take any more of this'," said a visibly upset Mr Noonan.
Judge James O'Connor dismissed the appeal on evidence that Mr O'Donoghue had discharged his shotgun at a road sign, owned by Kerry County Council, without checking if there were any rocks on the ditch behind it, as this could have sent the pellets ricocheting "in all directions".