A man who broke 23 windows worth more than €5,000 at a church and parochial house claimed he did it because he “is God’s messenger”.
Bearded Stephen Clarke broke into St Patrick’s Parochial House in Ballyshannon.
He banged on the door of the house and eventually began to throw stones through the windows.
Parish priest, Fr Cathal Ó Fearrai, was forced to lock himself in his room as he became terrified for himself.
Clarke, aged 47, with an address at Glen Easton Estate, Leixlip, Co Kildare, appeared for sentencing at Letterkenny Circuit Court.
The accused first appeared at the Parochial House around 2am on July 19th last and began banging on the door.
Fr Ó Fearrai refused to answer out of fear and tried to call Ballyshannon Garda Station but was using an older number and could not get through.
Clarke left but returned at 4am and began throwing stones through the windows, smashing 23 as well as an ornate stained glass window to a total value of €5,520.
He eventually broke into the house and sat in a chair in the sitting-room of the house.
Fr Ó Fearrai also revealed how the Blessed Sacrament was thrown on the ground, the lock on the tabernacle was broken and the oratory was “a complete mess”.
Clarke said he was not on the run from Gardai and only attacked the priest’s house to get attention.
Addressing Gardai in court, Clarke said “If he was that much in fear he would have rang 999. My attack was not against the priest. I have nothing against him.
“When you first went in I said “I’ll wait here until the Gardai get here.” I went and sat in the study – the priest would not open the door.”
Judge John O’Hagan said he would not allow Clarke to get onto his soapbox in the court as he had been found guilty of burglary and criminal damage.
He said he was not sending Clarke to jail but was giving him a suspended
However, Clarke said he could not sign a bond to keep the peace as he had an agreement with God not to sign anything.
He told Judge O’Hagan “I fear for you now.”
Judge O’Hagan replied “We all fear for ourselves and you’ve got good right to now” as he sentenced him to a year in prison.
However, Clarke returned to court later and agreed to sign the bond to keep the peace for a year.