'Vulnerable' man cannot live in safety
'FALL GUY' FOR CRIMINALS
A MAN described as a ' vulnerable adult' offered last week to leave County Wexford in a bid to escape the attentions of sinister criminal elements.
Joseph Walsh appeared before Enniscorthy District Court with addresses at 31 Hantoon Road, Maudlintown in Wexford and Boderin in Campile on court documents but Judge Donnchadh Ó Buachalla was informed that the 32 year old was, in effect, homeless. He stood accused of motor insurance, theft and handling charges, all of which were admitted.
He was brought to the courthouse in Ardcavan under prison officer escort after being remanded in custody on a previous occasion. The judge had the benefit of a psychiatric report which confirmed that the defendant was fit to plead. There was evidence too from Detective Garda Peter Cassin.
The detective told how a Honda Integra was stolen from Rosslare Europort some time in the early hours of November 5. The vehicle was later found 'chopped up' at Walsh's residence in Boderin. Some parts had been disposed of and the defendant was in court on a charge of handling the stolen Honda.
Garda Cassin accepted defending solicitor Caitriona Walsh's suggestion that the prisoner was a vulnerable adult whose actions were unduly influenced by others. The detective also accepted that Walsh might have acted under duress to some extent.
Ms. Walsh handed up to the judge a list of names and suggested that he would be already familiar with some of the individuals on the list. The prosecution witness agreed that those named may have had some part in the crimes Walsh was involved in.
He referred to a burglary that occurred between midday and 3 p.m. at a house in Slevoy, Foulksmills on October 14. A chain saw was taken in the raid, along with €800 in cash and coin. The saw was later recovered where Walsh was living after he told Gardaí where it was.
Ms. Walsh said that her client received a beating from his associates for revealing this much to the Gardaí and the witness responded that he was not surprised. He was convinced that the defendant did not act alone in the burglary and that he probably received none of the cash stolen, which was never recovered.
A motor insurance charge arose after Walsh was found driving in Wellingtonbridge on October 17. On the same date he took four cans of engine oil worth €27 from Wallace's service station. He also drove without insurance at Newbawn in the car park of Shane Murphy's licensed premises. He damaged another car as he attempted to move his own vehicle when it was hemmed in.
A third motor insurance charge dated back to October 30, this time at Clongeen in Foulksmills. Garda Cassin reported that the same individual had received convictions and community service orders in the past for being on the road with cover.
Ms. Walsh pointed out that the man before the court had been in custody since his arrest on all these charges. He was effectively homeless, she reported. Three possible places where he might stay had been mooted – two family and one friend – but no-one was happy to have him in their home in the circumstances.
Garda Cassin agreed that people were in fear of the 'other parties' as he called them, afraid that trouble could land on their doorsteps. Ms. Walsh described Joseph Walsh as a patsy and a fall guy for others. She felt he was extremely vulnerable since the death of his grandfather some years ago.
She said he was very much in fear of others. He had been helped by his sister and his grandmother was still alive, Ms. Walsh reported. The solicitor felt he would have no family support if he moved far away from those who were intimidating him and she wondered if he would be capable of looking after himself. Ideally, she revealed, he wanted to go back to school so that he could learn to read and write.
The question of where he could reside in safety was referred to probation officer Seamus Halpenny. He said he would make contact with colleagues in Waterford to see what could be arranged. In the mean time, the case was put back to the court sitting of December 22 with Judge Ó Buachalla extending the remand in custody until that date.