*The retired pensioner had been residing in the property at Poulawilliam, Miltown Malbay. 

A JUDGE has jailed a landlord for four months for an “outrageous attack” on the home of a 75 year old tenant.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Francis Comerford imposed a 24 month prison term suspending the final 20 months of the sentence on Christopher Meaney (39).

Judge Comerford said that one of the mitigating circumstances in the case is that Mr Meaney has agreed to pay pensioner and retired man PJ Walsh a sum of €30,000 arising from the house burglary at Poulawilliam, Miltown Malbay, on October 13th 2019.

Judge Comerford said that it shouldn’t be the case that someone who has the funds can avoid jail and a person with funds shouldn’t be treated in a different way to someone who doesn’t have the funds.

The judge said that it is “a pretty terrible offence of a landlord routing out a tenant from his house for his own purposes”.

Judge Comerford described the incident as an “outrageous attack” and was “a calculated attack in order to attack someone else’s legal rights”.

Mr Meaney, a blocklayer, of Quilty East, Quilty in west Clare pleaded guilty to one count of burglary and one count of criminal damage.

Judge Comerford said that Mr Walsh was watching a hurling match on the TV and cooking a meal in his kitchen on the Sunday afternoon when the attack commenced.

Judge Comerford said that the full facts of the case show that Mr Meaney “came in carrying a knife and made threats to kill the man”.

In evidence at the sentencing hearing, Garda Bríd Troy said, “He (Meaney) said he’d f*****g get him. He said, ‘I told you I’d get you. I want you out of this house’.”

Judge Comerford said that during the attack on the home, Mr Meaney threw concrete blocks in through nearly all the windows and smashed into the house through the French doors.

Judge Comerford said that the reason for the attack was that Mr Meaney was landlord of the house and he decided that he wanted the tenant out.

Judge Comerford said prior to the incident “Mr Meaney went the legal route to get Mr Walsh out and the legal route confirmed Mr Walsh was entitled to be in the house”.

The judge said that in breach of lawful findings of the Residential Tenancies Board, Mr Meaney “went out and charged into the house and came in with a weapon”.

Judge Comerford said that Mr Meaney was drunk during the attack.

In Mr Meaney’s favour, Judge Comerford said that prior to the incident, he was a man of good character, had pleaded guilty and has acknowledged his wrong doing.

On the background to the incident, Garda Troy told prosecuting counsel, Lorcan Connolly BL, Mr Walsh was renting the house from Mr Meaney and signed a seven-year lease in 2015.

The court heard Mr Meaney spent a number of years travelling abroad and when he returned to Clare he wanted Mr Walsh to vacate the property so he could move back in.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Walsh, said, “This incident has had a significant long term impact on my mental and physical health”.

Mr Walsh described the incident as a “nightmare” and thanked gardaí for their speedy response on the day.

“The consequences of this burglary will stay with me for the rest of my life,” he added.

The court heard Mr Walsh has since moved away from the area and part of Mr Meaney’s bail conditions was that he could not move into the house.

Counsel for Mr Meaney, Brian McInerney SC said that the incident arose from a tenancy dispute and said his client’s behaviour on the day was a “moment of madness” and amounted to a “loss of control”.

Mr McInerney said Mr Meaney said his client was a hard working man who was well regarded in his local community.

However, Mr McInerney said Mr Meaney has ‘destroyed his reputation” as a result of his behaviour and is “deeply apologetic”.

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