Wednesday 22 May 2019

Apology letter a 'sticking point' for builder guilty of attacking neighbour following lengthy dispute

Peter Lambe, 50, had denied assault causing harm to Gerard Furlong, 62. Photo: Pic Collins Courts
Peter Lambe, 50, had denied assault causing harm to Gerard Furlong, 62. Photo: Pic Collins Courts
(stock photo)

Tom Tuite

WRITING AN apology letter will be a “sticking point” for a Dublin builder found guilty of attacking his neighbour outside their homes following a lengthy dispute, a court has heard.

Peter Lambe, 50, had denied assault causing harm to Gerard Furlong, 62, who suffered serious facial injuries during the incident at Arran Road, in Drumcondra, Dublin, on the morning of March 4, 2016.

But he was found guilty following his trial at Dublin District Court in December and today, despite not accepting the verdict, he pleaded with Judge John Cheatle to spare him a criminal record so he can move to Australia with his partner.

Judge John Cheatle was furnished with a probation report on Lambe.

He adjourned sentencing until April to allow the accused time to complete a restorative justice services programme. That would involve a letter of apology which defence counsel Alan Grace described as “a sticking point” for his client.

He said his client had €1,000 to offer Furlong who had earlier turned down an offer of compensation.

Gerard Furlong of Arran Road Drumcondra leaves Dublin District Court Photo: Collins Courts
Gerard Furlong of Arran Road Drumcondra leaves Dublin District Court Photo: Collins Courts

Mr Grace said the offer was still available or it could go to charity instead.

Pleading for leniency he asked for the judge to spare his client a conviction. He said the probation report was largely positive, however, Lambe did not fully accept his guilt.

The accused, “seems to view it as an altercation that got out of hand”, counsel said.

Mr Grace said it would have been earlier for his client to pay lip service in relation to an apology.

The court heard there was “no love loss” between the neighbours and the incident followed a lengthy dispute.

Mr Furlong had told the trial that on the day of the incident he had to go to a doctor’s appointment.

When his daughter Claire Tynan arrived he got into her car and was pulling away from the house. He noticed a rear door was open and got out to close it.

He testified that Lambe had been at his van and wanted to speak with him but Mr Furlong did not want to talk to the neighbour.

He rejected claims by the defendant he started the fight or that he had dragged Lambe to the ground.

Lambe grabbed him and pulled him around and started punching him, he said.

They went to the ground and Lambe got the better of him and started punching him in the face.

He said his daughter came out and a neighbour witnessed the incident. He was in total shock and has suffered medical expenses as a result of the attack, he said.

Claire Tynan told the court she was petrified when she saw the attack on her father and she described how he was punched and continuously headbutted.

She said afterwards Lambe raised his fist to her. Her father was disorientated and the court heard he suffered cuts and bruising to his face. He was taken to the Mater Hospital.

In his victim impact statement he told the court he and his wife were in the process of moving from the area.

He said that for at least a year he was “fully conscious walking out the door of his house, looking up and down. I’m constantly making sure the car doors are locked”.

He lost interest in events like birthdays and Christmas and following medical advice he went to counselling.

Since the incident his grandkids no longer come to the house out of fear they will be assaulted. “They used to come and stay, that doesn't happen any more,” he said, adding, “to this day I still continuously in fear of Mr Lambe”.

Father-of-one, Lambe, lived on the cul-de-sac and acted as a carer for his mother.

He told the court he said to Mr Furlong, “we need to have a talk about your wife”, because she kept making faces at him The court heard there had been earlier disputes between the neighbours and when he went to the Furlong’s home five days before to discuss things he had the door slammed in his face.

He claimed he was attacked first and they ended up in a scuffle on the ground mauling at each other.

He also claimed his leg was cut by the victim with a phase tester.

His brother, taxi driver Anthony Lambe, lives in Skerries but was staying at his brother and mother’s house on the date.

He said and saw his brother attacked. He said he was sleeping at the house on the day as he worked nights.

He was alerted by the sound of a car and went to the window. He went back to bed, he said, because he knew his brother could look after himself.

None of two other independent witnesses saw a screw driver at the scene nor the blows sustained by Furlong.

Judge Cheatle said he did not find Lambe’s evidence credible and commented that his defence was undermined by the testimony of his brother. He was satisfied the incident occurred as described by Mr Furlong and his daughter.

Garda Noel Barry told the court the accused had just some minor convictions in the 1980s.

Pleading for leniency, defence barrister Mr Grace asked the judge to note his client looks after his mother who was deaf and dumb.

It was clear that what occurred was at the back end of a lengthy neighbourhood dispute and there was no love loss between them, he said.

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