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27/07/2021

‘No merit’ to application to vary bail, says Longford judge

‘No merit’ to application to vary bail, says Longford judge

A Circuit Court judge has agreed to vary bail conditions in the case of a woman but not her husband following a bail hearing in recent weeks.

Sharon and Edward Stokes, both of the Cottage, Ferriskill, Granard, applied to have their curfew and signing on conditions relaxed.

Sergeant Paul Carney told the court that he would be agreeable to relaxing the conditions for Sharon Stokes due to the fact that she’s pregnant with twins, which are due in September.

“But I would ask that the other conditions regarding good behaviour remain and that those conditions are reinforced in November,” said Sgt Carney.

“No, leave them as they are,” said Ms Stokes. Her husband, Edward Stokes also argued that his wife already has four children at home and twins on the way.

“What is she supposed to do, bring the twins with her?” he said.

“Can Mr Stokes have respect for the court please?” asked prosecutor, Mr Shane Geraghty Bl.

Judge Johnson, listening to the exchange, asked Sgt Carney why the curfew was being lifted for Ms Stokes.

“There’s a strong possibility she’ll be spending time in hospital and it was a reasonable decision made by myself that they be lifted and reinstated on November 1,” said Sgt Carney.

Seeing that as a reasonable application, Judge Johnson agreed to lift those conditions until November 1.

Mr Geraghty explained that Mr Stokes is charged with endangerment and production of a slash hook on December 3, 2018. He is also charged with setting an alsatian dog on a member of An Garda Síochána. There’s also a violent disorder charge from October 7, 2018 and a false instrument charge on June 10, 2020.

“For the December 3, 2018, incident, an investigation was carried out where an Inspector was forced to draw his gun and shoot the dog. Mr Stokes made a false report to GSOC,” said Mr Geraghty.

He added that Mr Stokes is currently on bail with strict conditions, including a curfew from 10pm to 7am, signing on four days per week, residing at the address on the charge sheets, no contact with witnesses, no further offences, to be of good behaviour and to surrender his passport.

“We’re looking to eliminate the curfew and reduce sign ons to one day a week. Regarding the alleged offences, do you agree there is a presumption of innocence?” said barrister for the defence, Pat O’Sullivan.

“Of course,” said Sgt Carney.

“Then why do you need a curfew?” asked Mr O’Sullivan.

“Edward Stokes is currently before the court charged with extremely serious offences. It’s absolutely necessary. The conditions are there to ensure he doesn’t commit further offences. One of the purposes is to ensure he doesn’t flee the jurisdiction,” said Sgt Carney.

“How long has he been on bail for the first case?” asked Mr O’Sullivan.

“Since some time in 2019. Some cases go back to October 2018, so he’s on bail for one thing or another for a long time,” said Sgt Carney.

When asked if he was aware that Mr Stokes was the victim of an ongoing feud, Sgt Carney said that the accused was in “a ramming incident” from a feud between two factions of the Stokes family.

“There have been 39 very serious incidents since June 2020 involving the Stokes family,” he revealed.

“Mr Stokes was allegedly only involved in one,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

“He’s the complainant in a lot of incidents,” said Sgt Carney.

“But the fact he’s tried to get mediation organised is positive,” suggested Mr O’Sullivan.

“That’s the first I’ve heard of that,” Sgt Carney remarked.

When asked how many times gardaí had checked Mr Stokes’ curfew, Sgt Carney revealed that 21 checks had been carried out since the beginning of the year.

“Most of those were between 10pm and midnight. There was one at 00:05 and one at 00:10. Curfew is set for 10pm. Gardaí agreed they would park the car out the front of the house and activate the blue lights because the children sleep at the back of the house,” he said.

“I sleep at the back of the house. The children sleep at the front,” Mr Stokes interjected.

“The kitchen and the sitting room are at the front of the house. I’ve been there half a dozen times and we’ve been through the house. It is entirely incorrect to suggest gardaí are waking the children. I would say that between 10pm and 12.10am is a reasonable time considering the curfew is in effect until 7am,” said Sgt Carney.

Mr O’Sullivan then referred to two alleged violent disorder charges which had been committed prior to the endangerment incident in which a member of An Garda Síochána discharged a firearm, shooting the dog.

Those comments prompted Judge Johnson to ask if the alleged offences were committed while Mr Stokes was on bail.
“Yes,” said Sgt Carney.

“Then those are valid terms,” Judge Johnson concluded.

“He’s lucky his bail hasn’t been revoked completely. I see no merit in this application. He’s alleged to have committed six offences while on bail and it hasn’t been revoked.

“The conditions are more than reasonable. There is no merit in this application and I’m refusing it.”

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