Up to 40 people attended 'prisoner release party' during strict Covid lockdown, court hears

A Garda told the court she saw flashing disco lights and heard very loud music when she arrived at the address near Ennis, Co Clare
Up to 40 people attended 'prisoner release party' during strict Covid lockdown, court hears

Gordon Deegan

Up to 40 people were present in a marquee for a late night "prisoner release party" going at "full throttle" during a strict Covid-19 lockdown, a court has heard.

Sgt Claire Heneghan told Ennis District Court she saw flashing disco lights and heard very loud music when she first called to the address at St Enda’s, Beechpark, on the outskirts of Ennis, Co Clare on February 8th, 2021. She said most of the 30 to 40 people at the event appeared to be drinking alcohol.

Sgt Heneghan said on the night she was approached by Rose Joyce (53), who said she was staging the event "for a son who was released from prison earlier that day".

In court, Ms Joyce – who lives at the address – denied saying this and also denied staging an organised event in breach of Covid-19 health regulations when such gatherings were banned.

The country was in a Covid lockdown at the time and Judge Alec Gabbett convicted Ms Joyce of staging the event in contravention of Covid-19 regulations and fined her €200.

Judge Gabbett said Sgt Heneghan “had been more than fair to Ms Joyce on the night”.

The judge said: “When Sgt Heneghan called at 10.37pm the party was at half throttle and Sgt Heneghan had asked Ms Joyce to turn the music down but when she returned at 11.37pm the party was at full throttle”.

Judge Gabbett said when Sgt Heneghan called at 11.37pm “the party was still going hard and heavy”.

Sgt Heneghan said when she called at 11.37pm, the disco lights were still flashing and the music was still very loud. She said she returned after gardaí received numerous complaints about loud music at the address.

She said she directed that the party cease and people were to leave.

Sgt Heneghan said she was satisfied that an illegal organised event was taking place in breach of Covid-19 regulations.

The Garda Sargeant told the court that Ms Joyce – represented by solicitor, Tara Godfrey – told her that she would have the music turned down but said she wasn’t doing anything wrong as it was all the one family.

However, Sgt Heneghan said despite the request that the party cease, the party continued for a number of hours until the early hours.

Sgt Heneghan told the court that she issued a Fixed Charge Penalty Notice to Ms Joyce the following day and it remains unpaid resulting in the issuing of the court summons.

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