Court hears Cork man wrote 'informer' on neighbour's car after planning dispute over shed

Court hears Cork man wrote 'informer' on neighbour's car after planning dispute over shed
The Courthouse on Anglesea Street, Cork.

A 74-year-old man harassed his neighbour by blocking a sewer pipe, writing abusive letters and pasting the word informer on his car when the victim queried his planning permission for converting a shed into apartments.

Seán Butler of Little Silver, Lehenaghmore, Cork, admitted the harassment and was before Cork District Court for sentencing today.

Judge Con O’Leary said, “An awful lot depends on what his attitude is now.” 

Peter O’Flynn barrister explained this to Butler before he gave evidence. 

The 74-year-old was then asked what is attitude was now to his behaviour. 

He replied, “Extremely sorry. Regretful. In hindsight, I would not do it again. It was an over-reaction. I am extremely sorry. I always dealt fairly and straight.” 

He then went on to say that his neighbour had blocked his (the defendant’s) property with his bin and he spoke to him about this. 

Butler then alleged today that his neighbour went to headbutt him and told him, “You don’t know what you are in for, boy.” 

Butler added, “I was wondering why he said that to me – what was the meaning of what he said?” 

He went on to say that his neighbour constantly reported him to the planning authorities in relation to the garage conversion and also reported to gardaí a video camera on his (Butler’s) property alleging that it was being used for surveillance of the victim.

Mr O’Flynn, barrister for Butler, told the defendant that the neighbour was entitled to make complaints to the authorities. 

Butler said he did not realise that at the time.

Asked what his attitude was now to his neighbour, he said, “Absolutely no problem. We are different personalities. I have no intention of interfering with him.” 

After listening to the defendant, Judge O’Leary said that as far as Butler was concerned it was all his neighbour’s fault.

Mr O’Flynn said the defendant accepted his responsibility, apologised and brought €300 to Cork District Court.

After further submissions the judge said that he would impose a suspended jail sentence in light of the defendant’s age and the absence of previous convictions and he also required the accused to bring in a further €1,000 in compensation.

The 74-year-old admitted causing criminal damage to a property at Fernwood Crescent, Togher, on August 17, 2018, by blocking a sewer pipe belonging to Cork County Council intending or being reckless as to whether damage would be caused.

He also admitted harassment of a man at Lehenaghmore between November 25 and 26, 2017, contrary to the Non-fatal Offences Against the State Act.

The victim said he and his family were traumatised by the harassment from Butler.

Inspector James Hallahan gave an outline of the background to the harassment perpetrated by Seán Butler on a neighbour.

“The harassment has its origins in the fact that in November 2017 this neighbour queried a Velux window that was put in a garage conversion belonging to Seán Butler.

“Over the next 12 months, Seán Butler sent him six letters which were abusive and highly insulting.

“This culminated in a sewer pipe being blocked, affecting (the complainant’s) property, and a sign with the text, ‘informer’, placed over the front number plate of his car.

“There were also other incidents when the complainant was out walking his dog.”

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