Public order charge against former Fianna Fáil politician dismissed

A former deputy for Fianna Fáil has seen a public order charge against him dismissed.

Kieran Hartley of Ballyboy, Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford appeared before Judge Brian O’Shea at a special hearing at Dungarvan District Court, charged with a Section 6 offense on land adjacent to his property on August 15, 2020.

The case against Mr Hartley, who served as Brian Crowley’s deputy before leaving Fianna Fáil in 2018, involved an argument with a neighbor over the cutting of hedges on adjacent land.

There had been four pre-trial hearings related to the prosecution since last September, including allegations of falsified statements by gardaí, all of which were dismissed.

Several witnesses attended the final hearing, but only two from the prosecution entered the stand.

Witness Eleanor O’Connor told court she was alerted that Mr Hartley had cut the hedge atop a boreen by her elderly stepfather ‘Rodgy’ O’Connor (Snr), who was upset.

The witness said she drove about a mile to the area, but asking Mr Hartley to stop he said ‘fuck you Eleanor’ and ‘go away’.

She said that when asked if he would send her a lawyer letter “like he did to others”, Mr. Hartley replied, “No, I will find you another way”.

Mrs O’Connor also claimed that Mr Hartley asked her if her mother had “ever tried to run you over in a boreen” and if her father “had ever come towards you with a chainsaw?” She said Mr Hartley had repeatedly shouted that he had paid for the ditch and that he could do whatever he wanted.

The witness said that as he tried to call Gardaí, other family members arrived and angry words were exchanged before the confrontation died down.

Defense attorney Frank Buttimer forensic cross-examined Ms O’Connor’s testimony, criticizing his sequence of events and hinting at an altered timeline in his statement to investigate Garda Thomas Daly without his initials of consent are obvious.

The witness Roger O’Connor (Jnr) recalled that that day, Mr. Hatley “was very angry” and that there had “not been to speak to him”, while collaborating in the testimony of his beautiful -sister.

Justice O’Shea ruled that other witnesses would likely repeat what had already been said and closed the hearing.

He said it was “not a land dispute” but a “suspected criminal offense” in which the accused was “not charged with rudeness”.

Noting two comments made during the confrontation, Judge O’Shea said telling someone to “fuck off” and “go” was “unsavory”, but not a criminal offense.

Threatening to “get someone in a different way” was open to “a completely innocent and guilty explanation,” he said, but if there was any doubt as to which one was correct, the benefit must apply to the defendant.

Therefore, he dismissed the accusation.

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