'I did a mad thing': farmer told garda after allegedly taking digger to mother's home

John Morrissey has pleaded not guilty to the criminal damage to the home of his mother, Mary Morrissey
'I did a mad thing': farmer told garda after allegedly taking digger to mother's home

Gordon Deegan

A west Clare farmer phoned a Detective Garda to say “I did a mad thing” shortly after taking a digger to his elderly mother’s home, a court has heard.

At Ennis Circuit Court on Tuesday, Det Garda Oliver Downes told the court that John Morrissey (53) told him during his phone-call that his mother, Mary, “was better off out of there” after the alleged criminal damage incident involving her bungalow home.

Sgt Patrick Fitzmaurice - now retired - told the court that Mr Morrissey came to Gort Garda Station in December 2019 after the alleged criminal damage incident and told him that “the house was his property and it wasn’t a crime to damage his own property”.

Counsel for the State, Lorcan Connolly BL told the court that an assessor’s report on the damage to the house put the cost of the damage at €55,814.

Respite care

John Morrissey of Clonreddan, Cooraclare has pleaded not guilty to the criminal damage of the external and internal structure of the home of his mother, Mary Morrissey at Alva, Cooraclare on December 13th 2019.

John Morrissey’s mother, Mary wasn’t in the home at the time as she was in respite care in December 2019 suffering from dementia.

Det Garda Downes told the court that he knows John Morrissey since childhood and during the phone-call Mr Morrissey told him: "She will not be able to return there - she is not being cared for.”

Det Downes told the court that Mr Morrissey told him that he damaged the house with a digger and that it was a civil matter.

A mother of 13, Mrs Morrissey shared the house with her son, Tom.

Mother's will

In evidence on Tuesday, a daughter of Mrs Morrissey, Nora agreed with Mr Connolly that her mother made a will in 2016 where she bequeathed her home to John, where Tom would have living rights to a garage and chalet.

Mr Connolly stated that Mrs Morrissey changed her will in 2017 and bequeathed the house to Tom instead.

The 2017 will was Mrs Morrissey’s final will and Tom told the court on Tuesday that the will was read out after his mother’s death last May and he was bequeathed the home.

Mrs Morrissey’s husband, also called Tom, died in 1997 and Nora told the court that the 115-acre family farm and two houses were passed onto John in 2003.

Tom Morrissey told the court that when he came across the damage on December 13th 2019 “there was glass everywhere. The stairs was gone. My mother’s bathroom was gone.”

Tom Morrissey told the court: “I cared for my mother as best I could.”

Rota

Mr Connolly said that the family had a rota for looking after their mother and Tom looked after her on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays “and then someone else would jump into the breach”.

Tom Morrissey told the court: “I was very close to my mother. I loved her dearly. She loved me.”

A brother, Joe Morrissey told the court that he felt “shame and anger” when he saw the damage that was done to the property on December 13th 2019.

He told the court that he felt anger “that somebody could do that to my mother’s house”.

The case continues on Wednesday.

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