KFC pep­per spray at­tack ‘pro­tester’ sent to prison

MASKED MAN WAS OB­SESSED WITH ‘AN­I­MAL RIGHTS’

Bray People - - NEWS -

A MASKED man who sprayed pep­per spray at two cus­tomers and a staff mem­ber in KFC in Bray in an an­i­mal rights protest has been sen­tenced to three years in prison. Neil Lenoach (24), 54 Monastery Grove, went into KFC on Fe­bru­ary 17 last year wear­ing a bala­clava and army com­bats, armed with pep­per spray and a ba­ton.

The court heard that the events that un­folded were like ‘a dream' or ‘a film' to the ac­cused. He first sprayed the only two cus­tomers sitting at a ta­ble near the door, be­fore turn­ing his at­ten­tion to an em­ployee, spray­ing him also. Gar­daí had al­ready come to the door when he tried to leave. Lenoach es­caped through the emer­gency exit but was chased down and ar­rested. The de­fen­dant had a ruck­sack hid­den nearby, con­tain­ing a change of clothes.

His so­lic­i­tor, Joe Maguire, said that the young man comes from a re­spectable fam­ily and has never been in trou­ble be­fore. How­ever, he did be­come prob­lem­atic in his teens, drop­ping out of school at the age of 14. ‘He de­vel­oped a form of ob­ses­sion re­gard­ing the hard­ship of live­stock he con­nected to that par­tic­u­lar out­let,' added Mr Maguire. He added that psy­chi­atric re­ports in­di­cate that Lenoach may suf­fer from Asperger’s syn­drome.

The ac­cused of­fered €1,000 each to the in­jured par­ties and his so­lic­i­tor asked Judge Con­nel­lan to con­sider a pro­ba­tion re­port.

‘I've lis­tened to the facts and the facts are in­deed strange,' said Judge Con­nel­lan, not­ing that while the de­fen­dant had of­fered €3,000 in com­pen­sa­tion, he ac­cepted free legal aid rather than save the State that ex­pense.

‘I have heard ev­ery­thing about the case. But I haven't heard where he got the bala­clava, the ba­ton, two pep­per sprays, and the ruck­sack.' The judge said that while he took into con­sider- ation fully both psy­chi­atric re­ports, he felt that ‘ this young man is lean­ing on and us­ing as an ex­cuse a pre­lim­i­nary as­sess­ment that came out in his youth but was never con­clu­sively con­firmed as Asperg­ers’.

He added that he felt the de­fen­dant was ‘grasp­ing at an as­sess­ment made years ago and say­ing “that's it, I can be­have in a cer­tain man­ner.”

‘If this is not dealt with now, good­ness knows what may oc­cur.'

Judge Con­nel­lan handed down sen­tences of six months each for pos­ses­sion of each can of pep­per spray, hav­ing the ba­ton, and the as­sault of three peo­ple.

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