A terrified mum told how she told her children to say the rosary after thinking her ex-husband was in a burning car outside the family home just days before Christmas.
Bridgin Browne broke down in tears as she told how she thought her ex-husband James was inside her BMW car which was ablaze in the driveway of their home in Letterkenny.
Mrs Browne appeared at Letterkenny District Court where Mr Browne was charged with the unauthorised taking of a car.
Garda Inspector Goretti Sheridan told the court how a charge of arson had been dropped earlier in the investigation.
Mrs Browne told how she and two of her three children had sat down to have Christmas pudding and to watch a Christmas movie on the evening of December 22nd, 2016.
She heard the noise of a car outside and thought it was her other daughter but when she went outside she saw her ex-husband in the driver seat of her car.
He was revving the engine and there were no lights on in the car and he suddenly reversed up their driveway.
She rushed inside and told the children that their daddy had taken her car but as she went back outside she saw her car was in flames.
She said she had to hold her son from going outside and she called the emergency services.
“We then proceeded to say the rosary as I didn’t want the children to go outside so I tried to distract them. I thought James might be in the car,” Mrs Browne told the court.
Garda Barry Gallagher told the court how they arrived at the scene and saw a car on fire and that Mrs Browne and her children were visibly upset.
She told him what had happened and he went looking for James Browne but could not find him.
CCTV footage of Mr Browne, from Ballyraine, Letterkenny, drinking in the nearby Swilly Inn just before the incident was shown to the court.
However, barrister for the accused Mr Gareth McGrory argued that because the footage did not have a time indicator it could not be properly relied on as evidence.
He said his client will say that he was not anywhere near his former family home and did not set fire to his wife’s car.
However, Judge Paul Kelly said that while he accepted Mr McGrory’s point on the CCTV footage, he found Mrs Browne’s version of events as sufficient and said Mr Browne had a case to meet.
Mr Browne was not in court, however, and a medical certificate was produced to say he was having a scan.
Judge Kelly adjourned the case until December 7th to allow Mr Browne to give evidence in the case.