A 58-year-old man who got aggressive with a young woman claiming that her West Highland Terrier had fouled on a green area was given a two-month suspended jail term.
Richard Ahern of Knockrea Drive, off Ballinlough Road, Cork, denied a charge of engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour but Judge Olann Kelleher convicted him after a trial at Cork District Court.
Edel O’Flynn, a young woman who lives next door to Ahern, said she was walking her ‘Westie’ on the green when she was approached by the accused.
“The dog started to pee on the grass. He shouted, ‘Hey, pick that up.’ He said, ‘Pick that shit up’. I said, ‘It’s pee, I can’t pick up pee.’ He kept shouting, ‘Pick that shit up. It’s an on the spot €150 fine.’ He was gesturing towards me. I picked up the dog and took two steps back. I was quite afraid. He kept walking towards me, still shouting. He kept coming towards me,” Ms O’Flynn testified.
Frank Buttimer solicitor said in cross-examination, “There was nothing threatening or sinister. He was adamant your dog fouled the area and there was this to-ing and fro-ing. The high water mark of this engagement between two people was, he was speaking assertively to you and you were engaging in an assertive manner to him – nothing threatening, abusive or intimidating.”
Richard Ahern gave his direct evidence and he repeatedly referred to the dog urinating and telling the young woman to pick up the urine. “I have stood on a lot of urine. It does offend you. I was probably offended by it,” Richard Ahern said.
Cross-examining, Sergeant John Kelleher asked, “How is she supposed to pick up dog urine?” The defendant then explained that his solicitor had told him not to use bad language in his evidence so he did not use the word, shit, which he spelled out as “s, dot, dot dot”, for Judge Kelleher instead of saying it.
Judge Kelleher said he accepted Ms O’Flynn’s evidence and convicted Richard Ahern of engaging in threatening behaviour on July 12 2018. He had seven previous convictions for the same offence.
Mr Buttimer asked the judge to consider imposing a fine rather than a suspended sentence saying the accused man had not come to adverse attention since this incident in 2018 and he said that for a threatening charge it was at the lowest end.
Judge Kelleher agreed but said of the suspended sentence, “Nothing will happen if there is no trouble in the next two years."