A homeless man trespassed into the private homes of two families in Killea, ‘terrorised’ young children and later assaulted two Gardaí in Tipperary Courthouse, heard Thurles District Court.
Inspector Pádraic Powell told Judge Elizabeth MacGrath that Andrew Phillips, of no fixed abode, and originally from the UK, was charged with trespassing in Gortacurra, Killea, Templemore, on April 4th this year, ‘in such a manner and without reasonable excuse, as would likely cause fear to another person’. One of the premises was the home of Mary Bourke.
Mrs Bourke told the Court that she was inside her home that day cooking, while her three children, aged 4, 9 and 13 were outside on the trampoline. Mrs Bourke saw Andrew Phillips approach the gate, and heard roaring and shouting from her children. One of them said to her: “Mammy, there’s a funny man outside.” Ms Bourke told Phillips to leave and he said “no”. “Before that he was shouting at my kids.” Phillips said it was a public area, but Mrs Bourke said it was her private yard. Phillips looked at her with a “piercing eye” and and caused her to feel terror. Phillips demanded food and water. “He kept shouting. He said ‘I am not moving, this is a public highway’”. Phillips ran off, and Mrs Bourke said she could remember her 4-year-old child “screaming...I was frightened myself.”
Mr Phillips represented himself in Court and cross examined Ms Bourke in the Witness Box. Ms Bourke told the Judge that Phillips continued “shouting and roaring”.
Mrs Bourke’s “poor mother in law” was near the door, and she was “terrified that he would go into her”. At this point, Gardaí arrived. Ms Bourke added: “he was walking along the the road. He saw the gate was open. He saw the kids. He decided to come in. He kept saying ‘your kids are jeering at me’”.
In Court, Phillips said to Mrs Bourke: “Hello, I do remember seeing you about five weeks ago. At any time did I physically touch your children?”
“No, you just terrified them”, responded Mrs Bourke.
Mrs Bourke’s neighbour PJ Nolan gave evidence that that he was the owner of the other property, and did not give permission to Phillips to enter his land.
“No, I most certainly did not,” he said. Shannon Tierney said her siblings were outside in the bouncy castle that day. “I was watching… I heard Chloe tell him to go away.” She went on to tell Phillips to “stay outside, it was private property, but he kept advancing.” She said she’d call the Guards, and went back to close the doors. “I was terrified at this stage. I kept asking him ‘what do you want’? He kept looking at me.” Ms Tierney told Phillips he “made me feel very unsafe and scared.” “He did not respond to me. I went back in and locked the door.” Phillips asked her if he touched the children. “No, but you terrified them to the point that they’re afraid to go out. You invaded my personal space, and that’s not okay with me.”
Another neighbour, Mick Costello, said he looked out through the window and saw Phillips walking along the road, before there was a commotion with the kids. “I decided something wasn’t right.” The two Alsatian dogs were barking and the kids were roaring. “He did not interact with me.” Phillips passed in front of him as “if he was a piece of wood”. Mr Costello called his wife and Phillips spoke to her, saying he wanted water and food. “While she was making a sandwich, he was looking into the windows of my house” in a way Mr Costello “did not like”. Phillips maintained it wasn’t a “criminal offence” to want water and a sandwich.
Garda PJ O’Brien said he came across the defendant walking along the road, after reports of him in a yard. Garda Kevin Joyce got out and approached Phillips but “he did not speak to us. He turned his head away.” Phillips later claimed they were “bogus policemen”. The complainant who owned the yard did not make an official complaint to Gardaí.
The two Gardaí later encountered Phillips again later that day. Mrs Bourke “was upset and frightened. Her daughter was shivering.” Shannon Tierney was “shocked, absolutely terrified”. Phillips had to be escorted out into the roadway, and into a patrol car. “Andrew Phillips was physically resisting me in the patrol car,” added Garda O’Brien.
Garda Joyce gave evidence corroborating his colleague’s account. “Mrs Bourke was very unsettled and scared by this person. Her daughter was absolutely terrified.” Phillips’ behaviour was “very irrational” and they considered detaining him under the Mental Health Act. “He had to be held in the back of the patrol car.” ShannonDoc assessed Phillips but his behaviour did not warrant him coming under the terms of the Mental Health Act.
Separately, Phillips was charged with assaulting both Garda Joyce and Garda O’Brien in Market Square, Tipperary town, on April 5th last. Phillips was being conveyed to the Courthouse that morning, and while they were at the back door of the Courthouse, he once again became resistant. “He needed to be carried up to the top of the stairs,” said Garda Joyce. Phillips headbutted Garda Joyce in the chest, and kicked Garda O’Brien in the leg. “We placed him back in the van and brought him to Limerick prison”.
Mr Phillips maintained he could not have assaulted either men as he was handcuffed, but Judge MacGrath said “being handcuffed does not mean you cannot assault somebody”.
Judge MacGrath found the facts proven against Phillips in both incidents and convicted him of two counts each of trespass and assault.
As Phillips did not want to engage with the Probation Services or have the matter adjourned again, Judge MacGrath said she must impose a custodial sentence. Phillips was sentenced to two concurrent terms of 4 months imprisonment in relation to Killea, and two terms of 2 months for both assaults - to run consecutive to the 4 months. In total, Phillips will therefore serve six months, backdated to April 5th. Judge MacGrath added: “Mr Phillips, you have problems, you need to mind yourself.”