Wednesday 19 June 2019

Hammer attack on neighbour

Ciara Galvin

A man who was attacked by a neighbour at his home with a hammer has said he feels 'very lucky to be alive'.

In a Victim Impact Statement, Anthony Fallon told Sligo Circuit Court since the attack on 12th June, 2018 he is 'consumed by fear' when there is a knock on the door of his home.

The attacker, Michael Gillespie formerly of 24, Drumroe, Cleavry, Castlebaldwin pleaded guilty to the assault which resulted in Fallon receiving five staples to his head.

The court heard Gillespie attacked Mr Fallon as he believed Mr Fallon had reported him to the local social welfare office. The court was told Mr Fallon had finished night duty on the morning in question and was falling asleep at 11am when he heard banging on his front door. He heard shouting, and when he opened the door he was met with Gillespie who looked 'wired' and had a hammer in his hand.

In a statement to gardaí following the incident, Mr Fallon detailed that his neighbour began shouting, 'You ratted on me, you ratted on me'.

Referencing Mr Fallon's statement, Sergeant Therese Duignan told the court that Mr Fallon denied any claims he had reported Gillespie, but the abuse continued. The father of four was hopping from one foot to the other before lunging at Mr Fallon and head butting him knocking him back into the house.

Mr Fallon lost his balance and grabbed Gillespie pushing him outside his house and against a wall. Gillespie then struck his neighbour with the hammer on the left side of his head near his temple. Mr Fallon was stunned, had blood flowing from his face and said, 'You hit me with a hammer'. Gillespie was on his knees and got up and returned to his home.

The court was told Mr Fallon had to receive five staples to his head. The Fallons have lived in the estate for 10 years, while Gillespie had lived there for approximately seven years. Sgt Duignan told the court that an issue had arisen previously between Mr Fallon and Gillespie in relation to their children,

Witness accounts were also proferred to court which detailed that one couple viewed the incident from an upstairs window of a house and saw Gillespie head butt Mr Fallon and hit him with a hammer, before running back to his house.

Another witness whose mother is a next door neighbour of the Fallons detailed hearing a man with 'a Sligo town' accent say, 'This is the biggest mistake you've made, you're a rat. You know I work. I know you reported me to the social'.

When Gillespie was interviewed by gardaí he admitted he was at Mr Fallon's home and that he had received a letter from the social welfare office but denied the use of a hammer.

Mr Fallon was off work for two weeks as a result of the attack and recovered well according to a doctor's report.

Mr Pat O'Sullivan BL, representing Gillespie, said his client and his family have since moved a considerable distance from the estate to 'allow peace to take place'.

In his Victim Impact Statement Mr Fallon said he felt 'lucky to be alive' and said at least his daughter did not see the incident.

Mr Fallon said since the attack Gillespie had intimidated the Fallons and stared at them.

"The physical attack on me was bad enough but the intimidation was worse," said Mr Fallon. He told the court he had disturbing thoughts about his own death.

He said though Gillespie had pleaded guilty to the assault, Mr Fallon had not received an apology to date. In terms of costs incurred from the attack, Mr Fallon outlined costs which totalled to approximately €1,300.

In mitigation, Mr Pat O'Sullivan, BL said his client was remorseful and intended to 'make good' on any financial losses Mr Fallon may have suffered as a result of the incident. He said his client lost 'complete control of senses' on the day in question.

A probation report detailed that Gillespie acknowledged what he did was wrong and was at low risk of reoffending. Mr O'Sullivan said the house, which was owned by Gillespie's parents had been sold and he and his family had moved 30 minutes away from Castlebaldwin. He said his client doesn't accept he hit Mr Fallon with a hammer but 'accepts he could have', adding that Gillespie had no funds available currently for compensation as his wife was the sole bread winner.

Before sentencing, Judge Francis Comerford described the incident as 'an attack on an unarmed man in his home' and acknowledged that a blow to the head always had potential to inflict 'serious harm'.

"This was a pre meditated attack on a neighbour with a claw hammer," said the Judge. Judge Comerford noted that no apology was offered by Gillespie and there was no attempt to make restituition for Mr Fallon's financial losses.

Judge Comerford also highlighted that Gillespie denied he hit Mr Fallon with the hammer. He accepted that Gillespie was of previous good character and had moved away from the area.

The 33 year old received three years in prison with the final two years suspended providing he keeps the peace for a period of two years.

Sligo Champion