Wednesday 19 June 2019

Fears for pupils after 'bullied' youngster issued threats to kill school principal

Court hears of devastating letters

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Brendan Furlong

A school principal in a victim impact statement told of his shock at having received a death threat in the post, and of his concern for the pupils of the school.

Peter Creedon, principal of St Aidan’s Primary School in Enniscorthy, spoke of his shock at opening the post on December 20, 2017 to find a card containing a death threat.

‘My main worry immediately was for the pupils in the school under my care,’ he said in a victim impact statement read into Wexford Circuit Criminal Court.

Adam Kinsella, of Ballinastraw, Glenbrien, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, was before Judge Cormac Quinn.

Kinsella, who was 21 on Sunday last , had pleaded guilty at a previous court to a threat to kill or to cause serious harm to Peter Creedon, his staff and pupils.

He had also also pleaded guilty to another threat to kill James Lambert and family on December 29, 2017, at Clonmore Upper, Glenbrien, Enniscorthy.

The defendant was a former pupil of the school, and was subsequently rearrested and fully co-operated, the court heard. He said he had been bullied at the school. He also admitted sending the letters to James Lambert and his family because Mr Lambert had accused him of doing something which he did not do.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Creedon added: ‘I immediately reported the matter to gardai, reviewed our school security which was very good as we had taken extra security measures on moving into our new building a year before.

"The Board of Management decided not to alert parents so close to Christmas as not to cause unnecessary worry for them over the holiday period or prevent them from returning their children to school after the break. I have no doubt that if news of the threat had become public knowledge at this time, it would have created a huge response on social media and the local press, resulting in high anxiety for our parents and resulted in pupils not attending school out of fear.’

Meanwhile James Lambert, reading his victim impact statement to the court, said that the letters they had a devastating effect on his family.

"These letters, and two subsequent letters left us physically and mentally afraid to leave the house, particularly after finding the letters threating to kill at their gate entrance. When the gardai told us of the person been charged, realsing that he lived just a few hundred meters from them it was all the more shocking. This had a profound and devastating effect on us as a family," he said.

Prosecuting Sergeant Rory Sheriff said it was Christmas week when Mr Creedon brought the letter to their attention.  He said that on December 29, 2017, M. Lambert received two letters in the post threatening to kill, while on January 5, 2018, he found letters left adjacent to the family home at the gate also threatening to kill, while on January 8, 2018, gardai were again alerted of another letter left inside the gate leading to the house.

Following extensive investigations, Kinsella was identified as a suspect. He was arrested on January 11, 2018, but made no admissions at that time. There was a forensic test carried out on the letters with finger prints and DNA sent for analysis, leading to a positive match for DNA.

Sgt Hayes said that a bullock of Jim Lambert’s brother-in-law had been shot. Jim Lambert was walking on the road when he heard the shot and it was believed the defendant was at the scene. Following an investigation, a file was sent to the DPP, but no charges were preferred against the defendant.

Defence Counsel, Niall Nolan, BL said at the time the defendant was unwell and was submitted to St. John of Gods Hospital. He said the whole experience had a traumatic impact on the family. He apologised to everyone, his family, the school, Mr Creedon and Mr Lambert.

He had been bullied at school while he also had been diagnosed as suffering from aspergers, while the reports before the court suggest he is at low risk of reoffending.

Judge Quinn said he would put sentencing back to April 11 to allow for a Probation and Welfare report, also a report from St. John of God Hospital along with a psychological report. He remanded the defendant on continuing bail.

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