A man who went on an “unprovoked rampage” following a dispute about a will in taking possession of an excavator and causing thousands of euro in damage to fencing, a tipper truck, and the side of the family home has avoided jail.
Judge James McCourt said that Declan Walsh (54) had already paid a “heavy price” in losing his business after he caused an “extraordinary amount of damage” in the incident. The criminal damage took place in October 2022 at Kilnatoora in Youghal, Co Cork.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that Mr Walsh previously pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal damage arising out of the incident.
Mr Walsh caused over €32,000 worth of damage to a tipper truck, close to €6000 in damage to fencing and nominal damage to the family home at Kilnatoora.
The court heard that the house was to be divided among siblings following the reading of a family will. The plan was that Mr Walsh would pay his siblings out. However, when that didn’t occur a solicitors letter had to be sent to Mr Walsh to leave the family home to allow it to be sold.
Sgt Mark Ward said that gardai were called to the home in Youghal following a “domestic incident” on the 2nd of October 2022. “Mr Walsh took possession of an excavator and damaged the side of the house and a tipper truck and fencing. “
Mr Walsh was under the influence of alcohol when he carried out the crime. However, he has since stayed sober. Mr Walsh was arrested and taken to Cobh Garda Station following the incident. He readily admitted his guilt.
The case had been adjourned for a psychological assessment which concluded that if Mr Walsh abstains from alcohol there is a good chance that he won’t re offend. He is of previous good character and is without previous convictions.
A victim impact statement was read in to evidence on behalf of Mary O’Sullivan, who is a sister of Mr Walsh. Ms O’Sullivan said what occurred was an “unprovoked rampage” that was like something you would see in a movie.
She said that the family had never done Declan any wrong. Even her neighbours were impacted as they had to witness the “screams” coming from the property. Ms O’Sullivan said that the outburst was completely unexpected and something from which they had been unable to recover. This incident has rendered her scared to leave home.
Defence barrister Jeff Hitchmough, BL, said that Mr Walsh had never been in trouble in his life prior to the incident. He has also stayed away from the property and his family since the incident. He said that his client is now sober. Mr Hitchmough stated that Walsh had lost his business following his behaviour in the “once off” reckless incident.
“His metal work business is gone. It (the incident) was a spontaneous loss of control. In snapping he made a stupid decision. He has significant alcohol difficulties at the time. He is a father of two who has worked hard all his life. (He was suffering) from depression. His medication wasn’t agreeing with him.”
Mr Walsh has sought treatment for his mental health and is seeing a counsellor every two weeks. Mr Hitchmough said that his client was genuinely remorseful. “He wishes this had never happened.”
Judge McCourt said the impact of this “explosion” of anger had been immense. He noted that immense suffering caused to Ms O’Sullivan and her concerns about her safety.
However, in mitigation he said that he was cognisant of the previous good character of Mr Walsh and his genuine remorse. Walsh has also addressed his dependency issues. He said that what had happened was a “protracted” incident.
He imposed a three year suspended sentence on Mr Walsh. He ordered him to stay away from the property in Youghal unless relationships are mended between the parties. Her warned Mr Walsh that he would face prison if he went anywhere near the property or the impacted persons.
Mr Walsh vowed to keep the peace and to be of good behaviour.
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