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Neighbour in 'queer' rants at gay couplecourt: Judge calls taunts 'despicable'

A GAY couple told a court they were repeatedly harassed and verbally abused by their next-door neighbour since moving into their south Dublin home two years ago.

Michael Joyce (54) is alleged to have told his neighbours, Eoin Hartnett and Alan McNamara, they were not wanted in the Dublin suburb of Ballinteer and that "children were not safe" with them in the area.

He was reported to have had a knife down the back of his trousers when he made the comments, according to his neighbours.

Finding him guilty of a breach of the peace, Judge Ann Ryan said Joyce's comments were "absolutely despicable".

The judge issued a bench warrant for sentencing.

Joyce, of Broadford Hill, Ballinteer, was found guilty before Dun Laoghaire District Court of threatening and abusive behaviour.

The incident took place outside his house shortly before 8pm on December 8, 2009.

Mr Hartnett said he was cleaning his car in his garden when he heard someone shouting. He turned and saw Joyce standing on the footpath as he shouted at him and called him and his partner "faggots, queers and gays".

Mr Hartnett said he asked Joyce to stop or he would call the gardai. He said Joyce told him to go ahead and call the gardai.

He claimed he and his partner, Mr McNamara, had been harassed and verbally abused by Joyce ever since they bought the house.

In his evidence, Mr McNamara said he could hear Joyce shouting from inside the house. He alleged Joyce called them "f**king queers". He also said Joyce claimed the other neighbours did not want them living in the area and that children were not safe with them around.

Mr Hartnett's father, Michael, who lives nearby, said his son asked him to come over when the incident occurred.

He said he heard Joyce shouting over the hedge and calling his son "a queer and a poof". He also said he could smell alcohol on the defendant.

Judge Ryan described Joyce's behaviour as "absolutely despicable" and issued a bench warrant for sentencing.

The court heard that Joyce, a father-of-one who has separated from his partner, is currently receiving treatment in hospital for a back injury.