Sunday 15 September 2019

Man who spray-painted words 'rapist out' on camper was 'somewhat out of control' - judge

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Jessica Magee

A man who spray-painted the words “rapist out” on a camper van where he believed his son had been allegedly abused by another child has been given a three-year suspended sentence.

The 46-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of two children involved in the case, was ordered to pay €6,000 to the owner of the camper van.

The father-of-three pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to criminal damage of the van in north Dublin on the night of April 19 last year.

He further admitted making a threat to kill a child while in conversation with a social worker on April 12, 2018.

The court heard the man told a Túsla worker he would, "douse (the child) in petrol and set him alight," a threat which he repeated to gardaí when they called to his house.

The accused went to gardaí in 2017 after his son alleged he had been raped by a 13-year-old in the camper van.

A file is being prepared for the DPP arising from the rape allegations.

Caroline Biggs SC, defending, said her client experienced a "severe flare" in his mental health issues of depression and anxiety and became "fixated" with the camper van.

She said he fully admitted the criminal damage, telling gardaí, "I drove up, I done it. I couldn’t look at it, I didn’t want anyone else getting raped."

Ms Biggs said when her client made a threat to the social worker he was desperate to get counselling for his son. He later told gardaí that it had been an "empty threat to have my son moved up the list for counselling."

Passing sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan said nobody was entitled to take the law into their own hands.

The judge said the accused was "somewhat out of control" and very worried about his son but that nobody should behave in the way that he had done.

"It’s a serious act to spray paint an allegation of rape. This entire family was defamed in the eyes of all their neighbours. It seems this was the intention," added Judge Nolan.

He ordered the accused to pay the injured party €6,000 within 18 months and said if the injured party did not wish to receive the money, the court would dispose of it.

Sergeant Darren Farrelly told Ronan Prendergast BL, prosecuting, that the spray-painting had been done in large letters with an aluminium-based paint which could not be removed.

He said the accused man made full admissions to gardaí about the threat to kill the child and the criminal damage. The man has three previous conviction for minor drugs offences, including the cultivation of cannabis.

The court heard the camper van was unusable after the incident but that its loss was covered by insurance.

Caroline Biggs SC, defending, said her client was very sorry for his actions and that he and his son were now both attending counselling.

She presented various testimonials describing the accused as a family man with an "enormous heart" who contributed to his local sports club.

"He was in the eye of the storm in terms of his own mental health and committed an act that was out-of-character," said Ms Biggs.

A victim impact statement was read in silence by Judge Nolan.

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