A GWEEDORE man has been ordered by a judge to remain out of ‘Gweedore and west Donegal’, save for the purposes of collecting his social welfare benefits on a Wednesday.

Patrick McLaughlin (55) of Meenacuing, Gweedore appeared before Letterkenny District Court in relation to an alleged incident on August 10, 2010 at Meenacuing, Gweedore.

McLaughlin had been in custody since the incident, but was granted bail by Judge Deirdre Gearty, who imposed a number of strict conditions.

McLaughlin was charged with threatening his father with assault.

It is also alleged that McLaughlin ‘chased his sister down the road and she was in fear for her safety, thereby causing a breach of the peace’.

Solicitor Mr Rory O’Brien, making an application for bail, said McLaughlin had been in Letterkenny ‘for a number of months now’.

McLaughlin had previously been ordered to ‘stay out of Gweedore’ by Judge Paul Kelly at a sitting of Letterkenny District Court in June.

Judge Gearty said that she considered a breach of bail to be ‘very serious’.

She said: “Mr McLaughlin seems to have a limited understanding of what the bail bond meant. Judge Kelly made it perfectly clear. He had a blatant disregard and this is a difficulty that he seemed to have.”

McLaughlin provided an address in Letterkenny that he would reside at. Judge Gearty had reservations as there was no-one in court to verify that he was allowed to stay at the property.

Sergeant Gallagher said that the address in Letterkenny had been previously used by McLaughlin, but said that the difficulty of the Gardaí lay with the breaches of bail and the defendant going to Gweedore and not remaining sober.

Sergeant Gallagher said there was no doubt that McLaughlin had been ‘invited’ to the address on the day in question.

Judge Gearty said: “If everyone in the house invited him, he has to say: ‘No, I’ve signed a bond to say I cannot go there’. It would be very strange for people to invite him to the property and then call the Gardaí when he comes there. It is a mixed message to be fair, but that doesn’t help him from the law’s pout of view.

“If he says that he fully understands the terms, even if he is invited, then he cannot gp.“

The court heard that McLaughlin has previously been in custody on similar matters.

McLaughlin took the stand and was advised by solicitor Mr Rory O’Brien that he was not to visit his old family home ‘under any circumstances’, even if he was invited.

McLaughlin said: “I will definitely stay in Letterkenny, yeah.”

McLaughlin undertook to abide by the conditions set down by Judge Gearty.

Judge Gearty told McLaughlin ‘you only understand what suits you’.

The Judge said Mr O’Brien was ‘in the unenviable position of explaining’.

She said: “He won’t be under any illusions as far as I am concerned.”

Judge Gearty granted bail on condition that he reside at the address at Lower Main Street, Letterkenny; he sign on at Letterkenny Garda Station every Monday, Wednesday and Friday; he obey a curfew from 10pm to 8am; that he have no contact whatsoever with his father, sister, any witness in the prosecution or any previous case; that he be available on a mobile telephone for contact by the Gardai; that he be of sober habits; and that he stay out of Gweedore and west Donegal.

McLaughlin informed Judge Gearty that he had to go to Gweedore to collect his social welfare benefits each Wednesday. Judge Gearty amended the condition to add: ‘except on Wednesday morning for the collection of social welfare payments’.

The matter was adjourned until the September 16 sitting of Falcarragh District Court.


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