Court hears of how Longford woman pepper sprayed son-in-law in broad daylight

A woman who pepper sprayed her son in law in broad daylight during a row at a petrol station in Longford town was last week handed a fine.

Margaret Stokes, 88 Springlawn, Longford, came before Judge Seamus Hughes at Longford District Court last week charged with engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour at Hanlon's Gala Shop, Dublin Road, Longford on November 27, 2017.

Inspector Bláithín Moran said gardaí were notified of a suspected incident having occurred at the busy filling station shortly before 10am.

Upon their arrival, officers soon discovered that pepper spray had been used against a person but that the alleged item was not found following a search.

Inspector Moran said in the immediate aftermath of that incident, Ms Stokes was arrested under Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act.

John Quinn, in defence, said there was a certain history to what had occurred, referencing a previous case which had come before the courts which resulted in damage being caused to Ms Stokes’ car by the estranged husband of her daughter.

“He pleaded guilty and in mitigation he paid compensation,” said Mr Quinn.

The Longford solicitor said on the day of this particular episode, Ms Stokes had pulled into Gala with her daughter when they inadvertently came across her son-in-law.

Ms Stokes, herself, addressed the court at that juncture and said there was an incident involving the man earlier that same morning.

“I had to call the Gardaí at 7am because he was threatening to break down my front door,” she said.

“The guards came and removed him and after dropping the grandkids at school we went to Gala for a coffee.”

Ms Stokes said shortly after pulling into the petrol station, the man attempted to open their car and drag her daughter out.

She said the gravity of the situation which was unfolding in front of her left her with “no choice” but to get out of the driver’s seat and discharge the pepper spray.

Taking a dim view of the incident, Judge Hughes made a forthright observance that had most, if not all, of the courtroom struggling to hold back laughter.

“It’s amazing that people like you before they go out, can pack their lipstick and nail varnish while also packing your pepper spray at the same time,” he told Ms Stokes.

Judge Hughes continued on that comical line of questioning by asking Ms Stokes if she had ever felt the need to use pepper spray on anyone else.

She said she hadn’t, prompting Judge Hughes to ask how she knew it would work.

“It worked on him,” said Ms Stokes in reply.

Again appearing to hold back his amusement, Judge Hughes said: “You thought you would teach him a lesson didn’t you that if he came around again I’ll give him another squirt.”

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