A man who left a woman terrified after attacking her car with a hatchet in a row over a football game has paid her almost €3,000 in compensation.
The attacker, Joe Craig, aged 39, appeared at Letterkenny District Court in Donegal in what the court heard was actually a case of mistaken identity.
Craig was charged with causing more than €2,300 worth of criminal damage to the white BMW car in Letterkenny on April 19th, 2017.
He attacked the car after being provoked by another man who had invited him to sort out a matter outside St Eunan’s Cathedral in Letterkenny.
The other man had called to Mr Craig’s home at 11 Ard O’Donnell in Letterkenny following a dispute over a football game.
The accused told the man to go away but he then began to mock Mr Craig’s sister who had died tragically.
The other man invited Craig to come down to the town and sort the matter out and Craig said he foolishly accepted the invite in the heat of the moment.
When he went down, a verbal argument began and the man claimed his wife was sitting in his car nearby at Castle Street.
Craig then proceeded to attack the car with an axe causing €2,309 of damage after smashing a headlight and other damage.
He soon realised it was not his rival’s car and sat on a nearby bench until Gardai arrived and he was arrested.
Mr Craig’s solicitor, Mr Kieran Dillon, said his client had no previous convictions and that he was very apologetic for what had happened.
Mr Dillon said “He was in a bad place because of the loss of his sister. The other party was aware of this and he made these remarks.
“This has festered and then it just exploded. He was very apologetic when he realised he had wronged this woman.
“He accepted his error and he waited for the Gardai to come and he was very forthright with them.”
Judge Paul Kelly said “This is what happens when you take the law into your own hands.”
Mr Dillon said his client had written a comprehensive letter of apology to the victim and had also been in contact with her husband to reiterate his remorse for his actions.
He added his client is a 39-year-old-man on jobseekers allowance who is very much involved with the local community, particularly in supporting young people’s sporting activities.
He added: “My client has learned a very valuable and costly lesson and he cannot apologise enough. In hindsight, he would not have done what he did.”
Judge Kelly noted that this was a very traumatic experience for the injured party and the fact it resulted in a case of mistaken identity was “not of much comfort”.
He asked the Probation Services to engage with the defendant and adjourned the case until April 29.
He also said he would like to know the attitude of the injured party and said he thought it important that she had sight of the defendant’s letter of apology.