Men arrested in connection with a Traveller feud-related ramming incident in the city centre on Saturday night during which a firearm was tossed into a busy beer garden have been granted bail.
However twenty-six year-old Michael Stokes, before the court on a charge of dangerous driving, was refused free legal aid when the judge heard he had been driving a 2008 Lexus during the alleged incident.
The John Street area was brought to a standstill from approximately 9.30pm until late into Saturday night, as shocked onlookers witnessed two cars speeding through the packed thoroughfare, followed by one car repeatedly ramming the other. This latest incident in the ongoing feud resulted in the arrest of six men from the Travelling Community in the locality and surrounding counties on firearms, criminal damage and dangerous driving related charges.
The high speed car chase, involving the Lexus and an Opel Vectra, started at Farran Park and proceeded in the direction of the city centre, down John’s Hill and through Johnstown, before the ramming incident in a packed John Street, where many people were socialising. One man is understood to have chased another into the Kazbar pub on the Applemarket. A firearm was later recovered in the bar’s smoking area, located to the front of the premises. Another man ran into the Centra store on John St and was locked into the store by staff until Gardai arrived. The road was closed off to traffic for a number of hours whilst the vehicles in question were towed away and the scene examined by Gardai.
There was speculation locally that Saturday night’s fracas may have been a retaliation attack for the shooting of 14-year-old Jason Stokes outside his home in Ardmore Park, Ballybeg, last Thursday. The youth, who was sprayed with pellets in his chest, arm and the side of his face, is understood to be making a good recovery.
Mark O’Grady (35) of 72 Fatima Place, Kilkenny, and Kieran Phelan (34) a construction labourer, of 17 O’Loughlin Place, Kilkenny, were each charged at a special sitting of Waterford District Court on Monday night with possession of a stolen Beretta Shotgun at Terminus Street, Waterford, on Friday, August 15 last.
Det Sergt Anthony Petit, Waterford, said he formally arrested and charged Kieran Phelan at 9.40 pm on Sunday night. In reply to the charge he stated: “I hold my hands up to it”.
In the case of Mark O’Grady, he was residing in Waterford but had connections in Kilkenny. If he was released on bail and remained in Waterford it was feared that he would get involved in further offences. When charged he made no reply.
Garda Inspector Padraig Dunne, Waterford, said there was no objection to bail on condition that both men stayed out of Waterford city and county.
Judge Gerard Haughton remanded the two men on bail in their own bonds of E1,000 each to Waterford District Court on August 26 next. Conditions of bail were that they resided at their Kilkenny addresses and stayed out of Waterford city and county, save to attend court and signed-on at Kilkenny Garda Station on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 9 am and 9 pm.
Curfews were imposed on both men between 10 pm and 7 am and in the event of the Gardai calling to their addresses to check the curfew they were instructed to make themselves available at the front door. Both men were granted free legal aid.
Michael Stokes (26), of no fixed abode, was charged with dangerous driving arising out of the incident in John Street, also on the night of August 16 last.
Det Sergt Pettit said he formally arrested the defendant at 11.45 p.m. on August 17. When charged and cautioned he made no reply. Inspector Dunne said he was not opposing bail in this case if the defendant resided outside Waterford city and county and observed a curfew.
Judge Gerard Haughton remanded the defendant on bail in his personal bond of E1,000 on condition that he stayed away from Waterford and remained indoors between 10 pm and 7 am. A condition of bail was that he signed-on at a Garda Station three times a week and made himself personally available in the event of Gardai checking the curfew.
Judge Haughton declined to grant an application for free legal aid by Mr Hilary Delahunty, solr, defending, when told that the defendant was driving his girlfriend’s 2008 Lexus car when involved in the alleged dangerous driving incident. He said a statement of means should be filed before the court considering legal aid.
The Judge said if there was a breach of bail conditions the defendants should be brought back before the court. “I am at the end of a telephone line”, he said.
Further charges in connection with the John Street incident were brought at Waterford District Court on Tuesday morning, when Thomas Burke Senior (51), with an address at 46 Crystal Court, Kilcohan, was charged with dangerous driving and causing criminal damage.
Det Garda Emmet Dunphy gave evidence of formal arrest and said he charged the defendant on August 18. After caution the defendant made no reply to the charges. Garda Inspector Padraig Dunne said there was no objection to bail on strict conditions and Judge Haughton granted bail in the defendant’s personal bond of E1,000 and remanded him to Waterford District Court on October 7 next.
The bail conditions set down included that he resided at 46 Crystal Court, Kilcohan, observed a curfew between 9 pm and 7 am and sign-on three times weekly at Waterford Garda Station, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Bail condition also included that the defendant makes himself available to the Gardai at the front door of his house when they check the curfew and that he keeps away from 12 Farran Park.
Mr Hilary Delahunty, solr, defending, said his client may have to leave his address as one of the rooms in the property was no loner habitable. The Gardai would be notified of any change of address, he said. Judge Haughton said the defendant was not to change his address at 46 Crystal Court, Kilcohan, without the consent of the Gardai in writing. He granted an application for legal aid.
Michael Burke, with an address at Grangecohen, Waterford, was charged with possession of a firearm at John St on August 16. Garda Paul Hayes said he arrested and charged the defendant at Dungarvan Garda Station on August 18. There was no objection to bail on very strict terms.
Judge Haughton remanded the defendant on bail to Waterford District Court on October 7 next in his personal bond of E1,000 on condition that he remained outside Waterford city and county except for court appearance and bona fide legal consultations, such appointments to be notified to the Gardai 48 hours in advance in writing.
Conditions of bail set down that he resides at an address outside the county and observes a curfew between 9 pm and 7 am and makes himself available at the front door of the house to the Gardai when checking the curfew. An application for free legal aid was granted.
Thomas Burke Junior (25), of 17 Blackberry Fields, Carrickpherish, Waterford, was granted bail when he appeared on a charge of engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting words and behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.
Det Garda David Traynor, Waterford, said he arrested he defendant and charged him. In reply to the charge he stated: ” I never threatened anybody”. Bail was granted in his personal bond of E300 on condition that he stayed away from Farran Park and kept the peace and was of good behaviour.
Meanwhile John Burke (27), with an address at 71 Kilcohan Park, was remanded on continuing bail granted in the High Court to Waterford District Court on October 7 next on a charge of assaulting Christopher Stokes causing him harm at Six Cross Roads, Waterford, on July 12, 2008.
Michael Burke (60), with an address at 12 Farran Park, Waterford, was also remanded on continuing bail granted in the High Court to Waterford District Court on October 7 charged with assaulting Christopher Stokes causing him harm on the same occasion.
Continuing bail was also granted to Anthony McDonagh (24), of 1 Ashling Court, Hennessy’s Rd, Waterford, who is charged with assault causing harm to Christopher Stokes. He was remanded to Waterford District Court on October 7 next.
John Mongen (31), of 56 Ardmore Park, Ballybeg, Waterford, was remanded on continuing bail to October 14 next charged with assaulting Michael Burke.
Judge Gerard Haughton noted that there were no objections in four cases where bail was granted by the High Court while the Gardai had objected to bail in the District Court in Waterford. It seemed an awful waste of court time and money. It was an expensive operation from the legal aid point of view.
Garda Inspector Padraig Dunne, Waterford, said in certain cases individuals involved refused in the District Court to live outside Waterford, if granted bail. In the High Court they agreed to live outside Waterford.