Judge Seamus Hughes
A man and a woman have been granted bail with strict conditions following their arrest last week in connection with an incident where an official Garda firearm was discharged by a member of An Garda Síochána in December 2018 when he was involved in an incident with a man, woman and their dog.
Edward ‘Blondie’ Stokes (29) Ferriskill, Granard, and Sharon Stokes (32), also of Ferriskill, Granard, were brought before Judge Seamus Hughes last Tuesday morning.
Edward sStokes was charged with criminal damage, endangerment and producing a weapon, to wit a slash hook on December 3, 2018. Sharon Stokes was also charged with possession of a slash hook.
The pair were disputing a number of their bail conditions, namely the curfew and the condition to sign on at Granard Garda Station daily, but Sgt Paul Kearney explained to the court that the conditions were “necessary and appropriate”.
“Do you consider Mr Stokes to be a flight risk?” the accused’s barrister, Pat O’Sullivan asked Sgt Kearney.
“We’re setting the necessary conditions on this to prevent any concern over flight,” Sgt Kearney replied.
“But do you consider him a flight risk?” Mr O’Sullivan asked again.
“The application to surrender his passport is to negate that concern,” said Sgt Kearney.
“So do you consider him a flight risk?” Mr O’Sullivan asked once again.
“He’s already answered that,” snapped an impatient Judge Hughes.
“No, don’t interrupt me,” he said when Mr O’Sullivan tried to interject.
“This is an urgent court. I should not be sitting here past 12pm, so make your application fast. He answered your question about the passport. Move on.”
Moving on, Mr O’Sullivan asked Sgt Kearney if he believed Mr Stokes would interfere with witnesses.
“The condition to have no contact with witnesses is there to negate that,” Sgt Kearney replied.
“That’s reasonable,” said Judge Hughes.
“If these bail conditions are granted, it’ll help us in the policing of Mr Stokes,” said Sgt Kearney.
“So you want to keep an eye on him,” said Mr O’Sullivan before referring to another prosecution where bail conditions had not only Mr Stokes on a curfew but also his dog.
“Hang on a minute, are you telling me there’s another Section 6 public order charge,” asked Judge Hughes.
“It was withdrawn in December,” Mr O’Sullivan explained, adding that there were a number of previous convictions against Mr Stokes.
“It doesn’t matter. This is a separate incident where it was alleged that an alsatian dog attacked a sergeant,” Judge Hughes snapped.
“I know nothing about your client. The fact this is a fifth prosecution is irrelevant.”
“I have to disagree,” said Mr O’Sullivan.
“Good. Go to a different court then,” said Judge Hughes.
“I’m not interested in any other cases he’s charged with. It’s irrelevant to this application and I want to drive that home.”
“I'm asking you to apply the law,” said Mr O’Sullivan.
“Excuse me. I always apply the law. These are very reasonable bail conditions,” Judge Hughes shot back in annoyance.
Mr Stokes, unhappy with the conditions, said that he would take his case to the high court.
“Here we go, another High Court application. How much will that cost you?” Judge Hughes asked.
“I don’t know,” said Mr Stokes, “I wouldn’t have to go to the High Court if you gave me the bail conditions I want.”
Mr Sullivan told the court that the pair were willing to offer €1,000 in cash bail each.
“€1,000 plus the conditions,” Judge Hughes insisted, adding that they were standard conditions.
“No, definitely not. I won’t be accepting those,” said Mr Stokes.
Sharon Stokes was equally displeased with the conditions.
“You want me to sign on every day with four kids,” she said.
“Those are standard conditions,” Judge Hughes replied.
“Let me make a phonecall,”said Ms Stokes.
After some discussion, both accused agreed to the conditions and handed in €1,000 each.
They have been remanded on bail and are due to reappear in Longford District Court on June 23.