Jailed for Christmas - over two windows

BILL BROWNE

Published 20/12/2012 | 20:50

A WIDOWER from Ballyhea is spending Christmas locked up in jail - over his refusal to remove two dormer windows from the front of his home.

The family of Harold O'Toole, who will turn 57 on Christmas Eve, were shocked after their father was jailed for six months last week for breaching local authority planning regulations.

His stunned son, Harold jnr, said it's hard to see how jailing his father could be justified. "I am shocked by it because it doesn't seem as bad as other things that are going on out there," he said. AN unemployed widower from Ballyhea is facing a bleak Christmas behind bars after being handed down a sixmonth jail term for contravening planning guidelines.

Harold O'Toole (56) will spend the festive season in Limerick Prison after a long running dispute over the installation of two dormer windows at his home finally came to a head at a sitting of Kilmallock District Court last week.

Ronan MacKernan and executive planner with Cork County Council told the court that the action stemmed from a complaint they had received from a member of the public in 2006.

The complaint was in relation to a pair of dormer windows that Mr O'Toole had put on the front of his house at Beechwoord Drive, Ballyhea.

Mr MacKernan told Judge Mary Larkin that the defendant had applied to convert his attic, including projecting dormer windows to the front and rear.

"Cork County Council gave planning permission for the dormer windows at the back, but to omit them from the front. Despite repeated warning and considerable goodwill by the council, extended to him to remove the dormer windows, he hasn't," said Mr MacKernan.

"He stated to me on a number of occasions he had no intention of removing the windows," he added.

Mr MacKernan said he had visited the house the week prior to the court sitting and found the dormer windows in question were still in place.

This, despite the issuing of a legal enforcement order in 2009 to take out the windows.

Addressing the court, Mr O'Toole said he could not afford to take out the windows.

However, Judge Larkin was unimpressed saying that O'Toole had been "deliberately walking around this (issue) for six years".

Convicting him of not complying with the enforcement order to remove the windows, the Judge imposed the sixmonth jail term and a €3,000 fine.

Judge Larkin also awarded costs against O'Toole of €2,726.

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