Monday 19 March 2018

Teenage thugs making life hell for neighbours


RESIDENTS OF a Wexford town housing estate testified in court this week that out-of-control youths are making their lives hell. Bishopswater householders gave evidence at Wexford District Court in support of their neighbour, George O'Connor (57), who was charged with assaulting a local teenager, but cleared of the charge.

The 17-year-old youth claimed he was chased down the street by Mr O'Connor who assaulted him in the toilets of the Gaelic Bar.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Kevin Gralton last week told the county's Joint Policing Committee that gardaí would not tolerate anti-social behaviour in Wexford town – and that he woul impose anti-social behaviour orders where necessary. A 57-YEAR-OLD man was cleared of assaulting a teenager after his neighbours in Bishopswater testified that residents in the estate are being terrorised by out-of-control youths.

George O'Connor of 93 Bishopswater denied assaulting the now 17-year-old teenager who is also from Bishopswater, at Distillery Road on March 2, 2009 after chasing him and a friend down the street.

The teenager told Judge Donnchadh O Buachalla that he and a pal stopped outside Mr. O'Connor's house and suddenly he came out with a stick and started shouting at them, demanding to know what they were doing there.

He followed them to the Gaelic Bar which they entered to go to the toilet. The teenager said he was standing at a urinal when Mr. O'Connor grabbed him by the throat, pushed him against the wall and accused him of throwing stones at his house.

He said he pulled away but Mr. O'Connor grabbed him again. He repeated that he didn't do anything wrong and said his alleged attacker told him 'It's me and you alone in here'.

He said the defendant dragged him outside and pushed him up against the wall. He felt a blow to his left eye but wasn't sure whether it was the defendant's elbow or fist that had hit him.

Mr. Kevin Carthy said a witness had heard him haranguing Mr. O'Connor. The teenager replied that this was lies.

He denied saying that he would break every window in his house.

Mr. Carthy asked him if this was the first complaint that had been made against him. He replied that it wasn't.

'Are you a member of a gang that is tormenting and terrorising people in the area,' the solicitor asked.

'No' replied the teenager. 'People have blamed me for things I didn't do.'

'You have constantly,-over a period of years, tormented and terrorised people,' said the solicitor.

The boy's mother said George O'Connor called to her door at about 7.45 p.m that evening and accused her son of knocking on doors and throwing stones. He said he wasn't going to put up with it anymore.

Following the alleged assault, she noticed that her son's neck was all red. He had a pain in his head. She contacted his father and they decided to bring him to the Caredoc and to the Garda Station to make a complaint.

Garda Darren Lyons said he took a statement from George O'Connor in which he related how a neighbour rang him to say there were young lads at the timber blocks in his garden.

He chased them off and followed them to the toilets in the Gaelic. He warned the teenager to stay away but he did not physically assault him in the toilets or anywhere else, he said.

Garda Lyons confirmed that the teenager had red marks on his neck when he called to the station but agreed with Judge O Buachalla that his neck also seemed to be red when he was giving evidence.

In court, Mr. O'Connor again denied that an assault had taken place and said he had coached young men for many years with the Faythe Harriers GAA Club. He had lived in Bishopswater all his life.

Inspector Pat McDonald asked him if it was a wise move to follow the youths to the toilets in the Gaelic and he agreed that in hindsight, it wasn't.

Eddie Morrissey who was in the Gaelic Bar that night told the court that he heard a young fella saying to George O' Connor outside that he would break every window in his house.

Bishopswater resident Pam Burke said she telephoned Mr. O'Connor when she saw young lads in the garden of his house, because residents had endured a lot of anti-social behaviour by this teenager and a group of friends.

It started off with bell-ringing and sometimes you couldn't tell if they were kicking the door or kicking a football at it. Ms. Burke said she complained to the teenager's mother but she said she didn't know what she could do about it.

Another resident, Assumpta Murphy, recalled that on one occasion, she went to bed early when her husband was away and she could hear obscenities being shouted outside her bedroom window.

She looked out and saw the teenager standing on the pillar with a traffic cone, shouting obscenities that she would not like to repeat.

Olive Laffan said incidents happened to her when her husband was away at weekends. Young lads would throw stones at her windows and stand outside shouting obscenities that you wouldn't hear from a drunken man.

She has a St. Bernard dog and she told them she would set it after them.

Then, they started shouting 'who is going to have sex with you tonight, your hairy husband or the hairy dog.' She recognised a few of them, she said.

Commenting that he had to be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt as it was a criminal case, Judge O Buachalla said it would be unsafe to convict.

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