“Well, it’s good to know that Kofi Annan won’t be idle,” a judge remarked as an assault case at Kilkenny District Court last week outlined on-going friction between neighbours.
Judge John Linsday made the reference to the former UN secretary-general who is trying to negotiate peace in Syria as the judge dismissed the case against James Morris of Ballinalina, Kells Road, Kilkenny.
“I think the parties should go to mediation or something to resolve this, because otherwise it just gets worse,” the judge said.
The court had heard that part of the problem is the lack of a boundary wall or fence between the two properties.
The case involved an incident on December 14, 2010, when it was alleged that James Morris had thrown a stone at his neighbour PJ Cuddihy.
There was conflicting testimony about whether a stone had been thrown and whether Mr Cuddihy had sustained a cut to his head.
The court heard that, on the afternoon in question, Mr Cuddihy had been welding in his garage when Mr Morris drove away from his own house but then reversed back, got out of the car and shouted at Mr Cuddihy before driving away again.
Mr Cuddihy told the court that he put his head down to ignore his neighbour “and after that I got a slap of a stone in the head.”
His mother’s partner, John Nolan, also told the court that he had seen Mr Morris “bend down, pick up something and fire it in the direction away from himself” and then “saw Mr Cuddihy holding his head” and “saw the stone on the ground.”
Garda Michael Corcoran testified that, when he responded to the call from Mr Cuddihy, he observed a “small lump (to the head) with a small bit of blood coming from it.” He was also shown a stone of about three-quarters of an inch, “the size of a ping-pong ball.”
The defendant told the court that he did shout at Mr Cuddihy but that he did not throw anything at him. His solicitor, Michael Lanigan, also pointed out that there was no mention of a cut or lump in Mr Cuddihy’s head in the garda statements for the case and that no stone was taken in as evidence.
The court heard that Mr Morris bought a piece of land from Margaret Cuddihy in 1996 and built his house, and that relations between the neighbours were amicable for several years. Problems started to arise around 2007, however, and complaints have been made to the gardaí from both sides, the court heard.
The defendant told the court that on the day in question he had come home to see whether any post had arrived for his son. He testified that, as he was then leaving his house, as he turned his car around the corner he saw Mr Cuddihy standing at the door with his middle finger sticking up, a gesture that Mr Cuddihy denied in his testimony.
“I reversed the car and got out and he had gone back into the garage,” Mr Morris said. “I shouted in at him, ‘Come out and stick your eff-ing finger at me now!’ and I got back into the car and drove into town.”
The court heard that the defendant was about 30 yards away from Mr Cuddihy when the incident took place, and as Mr Cuddihy was down on one knee while welding, his head would have been about three feet off the ground.
Judge Lindsay said in making his ruling: “If a stone was thrown from in excess of 25 or 30 yards and was still travelling three feet above the ground, it would have to be thrown with considerable force. There would be a laceration to the head which involved a considerable amount of blood.”
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