Gardaí caught a man spraying graffiti to deface a Fine Gael local election poster on the North Ring Road in Cork and now the man charged with causing criminal damage has been convicted of the crime.
Judge Olann Kelleher noted that the accused man, Mark Byrne of Summerstown Grove, Glasheen, Cork, was not present at Cork District Court for the case against him. He convicted Byrne in his absence and issued a warrant for his arrest to be brought to court for sentencing.
However, a short time later, Mark Byrne, 51, did come to court and Judge Kelleher heard evidence from him. Mark Byrne said he was a paid up member of the Fine Gael party and as such had part ownership of the poster at the centre of the case.
Judge Kelleher did not accept this and convicted him on the criminal damage charge. He disposed of the case by fining him €200.
Garda Alan Hourihan testified in the case which related to May 23 2019 that he and Garda Michael Nagle were queueing in traffic at the North Ring Road on that date when they observed a man spraying graffiti on an election poster.
Garda Hourihan got out of the patrol car and approached the man with the black spray paint in his hand.
The guard confirmed that the large poster was for Fine Gael candidate Lorraine O’Neill and had been defaced.
Garda Hourihan said it was not possible to read what was written except that there was some reference to a former leader of the Fine Gael party.
“The poster valued €50 was completely unusable again,” Garda Hourihan said.
As a matter of proof of criminal damage being caused, Lorraine O’Neill came to court to confirm she had given nobody permission to deface her poster and she also confirmed it cost approximately €50. Ms O’Neill also confirmed that the matter was brought to her attention by Garda Hourihan.
The memo of the interview with Mark Byrne stated, “You were caught by gardaí defacing an election poster on North Ring Road. Do you accept this?” He replied, “Yes.” “Do you understand this is illegal?” he was asked and replied, “Yes.” “Why were you defacing the poster?” he was asked and he replied, “That’s my own business.”