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Clare family terrorised after threat over alleged drug debt

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A CLARE family was “terrorised, intimidated and harassed” as a result of a threat made over an alleged drug debt, a court has heard.

At Ennis district court, Judge Mary Larkin imposed a nine-month prison sentence with the final month suspended, on Kilrush man Patrick Hall (36).

Hall, of no fixed abode and who had been living in a caravan in the Beech Park area of Kilrush, was before the court having previously pleaded guilty to making a threat to a man to burn down his house.

The court heard that Hall approached the man at his place of work in Kilrush on July 22 and told him that if he didn’t ring a number by a certain time, his house would be burned down. Hall was arrested and brought before the district court in July.

A bail hearing at the time time heard the threat issued by Hall related to an alleged drug debt owed by the injured party’s son to another unnamed person. Hall has been in custody on remand since July 27.

In court today, Judge Larkin said that as result of Hall’s threat, “a perfectly innocent family were terrorised, intimidated and harassed”.

After reading a victim impact report, Judge Larkin said she was imposing a lengthy prison sentence “to reflect the consequences for perfectly innocent parties from a crime arising from a threat to burn down a home”.

Judge Larkin set recognisances in the event of an appeal in the circuit court. Details of the threat were outlined at Ennis district court earlier this month.

At the time, Sergeant Louis Moloney said the injured party was working in Kilrush when a man not known to him, approached him and handed him a piece of paper.

The court heard the man was instructed to ring the number on the paper by 7pm or his house would be burned down.

Sergeant Moloney said Patrick Hall was arrested and identified from cctv footage.

The court heard Hall denied making the threat and told gardaí the piece of paper he gave the man was a shopping list.

Hall, a father of one, has 76 previous convictions, the court heard.

In court this Wednesday, defence solicitor, Tara Godfrey said her client’s life has been marked by drug addiction for the last 21 years.

Ms Godfrey said gardaí arrested her client shortly after he made the threat and no harm had come to the injured party, his family or the property.

She asked the court to structure any sentence to allow Hall the opportunity for rehabilitation through engagement with the probation services.

Ms Godfrey said her client “apologises unreservedly” to the injured party and his family.

Judge Larkin said it was open to the defendant to avail of drug treatment programmes during his time in custody.

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