Letterkenny Courthouse

Man threatened to kill neighbour with message in a bottle

May 17, 2022

A Donegal man left a message in a bottle for his neighbour threatening to kill him.

Alan Delve, 40, of 3 St Vincent’s Villas, Tullyarvan, Buncrana, believed his neighbour, Patrick Coyle, was keeping weapons that were sending electronic waves and causing him to have headaches.

Delve appeared before Buncrana District Court where he faced charges relating to threats he made against Mr.Coyle at his home in Pillar Park, Buncrana on 14 September 2021.

He was also charged with trespass and criminal damage against Mr. Coyle’s granddaughter’s car, which was parked outside his home on 8 October 2021.

Furthermore at Buncrana Garda Station on 9 October, he was also charged with making threats to kill or cause serious harm to Mr. Coyle.

He pleaded guilty to all charges.

Defence solicitor Ciaran MacLochlainn said his client had suffered with mental health problems but had made great progress in recent months after he was detained in the mental health unit in Letterkenny Hospital.

Sergeant Sean McDaid told the court that in September last year Gardai were called to Pillar Park after Mr. Coyle reported having an altercation with his neighbour Alan Delve.

Sgt. McDaid said when gardaí arrived on the scene Mr. Coyle handed them a bottle with a message inside saying “terrorists this is your last warning. Stay out of my life or you will lose yours.”

Mr. MacLochlainn explained that Mr. Delve was having a psychotic break at the time and he believed that Mr. Coyle had weapons in his house that were sending waves to him and causing his head to hurt.

He said he suffered from delusions and had severe psychiatric problems, as well as having addiction issues. He said in reality he had no issues with Mr Coyle at all and couldn’t remember these incidents occurring.

On the second occasion, on 8 October, gardaí were again called to Mr. Coyle’s home after Mr. Delve entered the grounds of his premises.

Sgt. McDaid said Mr. Delve threw a carton of milk at the house before finding two large stones and throwing them also.

He said one of the stones hit Mr. Coyle’s granddaughter’s car which was parked in his driveway.
Sgt. McDaid said Mr. Coyle, who was previously a neighbour of Mr. Delves, was in fear when he entered his property.

The court heard that during the course of the interview with gardai after he was arrested Mr. Delve made admissions and further threats to kill Mr. Coyle.

Solicitor MacLochlainn said it was his behaviour during the course of this interview that forced gardai to detain Delve under the Mental Health Act.

“At this point was detained under the Mental Health Act and he was brought to the mental health unit of Letterkenny Hospital,” explained Mr. MacLochlainn.

“He was diagnosed with psychotic problems and put on medication. And now for the first time in his life he is at peace and he has kept down a job for the first time ever.”

Sgt. McDaid said Delve had a large number of previous conditions including road traffic offences, drugs offences, theft, criminal damage, public order and assault.

Mr. MacLochlainn accepted that his client has a ‘very poor record’ however he said he was making ‘great strides’ in his life and was anxious to deal with all matters. He asked the court to show whatever leniency it could, adding that he paid more than €200 to Megan Coyle for the damage he did to her car.

Judge Patricia Cronin said these were very serious matters and she was considering dealing with them by way of a custodial sentence.

However she said to “give Mr. Delve the benefit of doubt” she requested that his psychiatrist provide a report on Mr Delve’s progress and outline what steps he is taking to continue on this path.

“I accept Mr Delve has made progress in the last seven months, but this a very short space of time so we need to see what steps he is taking to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again,” added Judge Cronin, before adjourning the case until 4 September for production of the doctor’s report.