Woman guilty of crim­i­nal dam­age fol­low­ing row over chil­dren

Bray People - - NEWS -

AN ar­gu­ment be­tween two Ark­low mothers over their chil­dren ended up in the Dis­trict Court on Wed­nes­day, where one was ac­cused of as­sault­ing the other.

Jennifer Byrne of 14 Wil­low Grove, Dublin Road, Ark­low, was ac­cused of as­sault­ing Mary Flem­ing on July 12, 2016, and crim­i­nal dam­age to her glasses, val­ued at €189.

Mary Flem­ing gave ev­i­dence that on the date in ques­tion her daugh­ter and son, who had been play­ing on the green area near their home in Avon­dale Cres­cent, re­turned home.

She said her son was cry­ing and her daugh­ter told her that he had been hit on the back with a brick by Jennifer Byrne’s child.

‘She [Byrne] said the brick only hit him a lit­tle bit and then she threw abuse at me say­ing my kids are al­ways down there un­su­per­vised.’

‘She called my three year-old a lit­tle witch and I told her her son should be on a leash and that she should have a muz­zle,’ Ms Flem­ing said.

The wit­ness said that Byrne then hit her with a closed fist and that her glasses broke on her face, leav­ing a scar on the bridge of her nose.

Ms Flem­ing de­nied ‘mak­ing a swing’ for Ms Byrne first and said: ‘I went down to find out what hap­pened and I was up­set but I never made a swing at her.’

Jennifer Byrne ad­mit­ted to slap­ping Ms Flem­ing but said that it was in self de­fence as her neigh­bour was the one who swung at her first.

‘I was stand­ing smok­ing a fag with my part­ner in the gar­den and I never said the brick only hit him a small bit,’ she said.

Byrne said that she could see some­thing hap­pen­ing on the green be­tween the chil­dren so she called her son back ‘so he would not get into a fight’. She said she saw Ms Flem­ing’s son go­ing back to his own house cry­ing and that, shortly af­ter­wards, Ms Flem­ing ‘came down scream­ing and shout­ing’.

‘She swung at me but I moved back and I used self de­fence. It was a slap,’ Ms Byrne said.

Ms Byrne’s part­ner Philip Dunne said that he was in the front gar­den of their home and that Ms Byrne never left their prop­erty. He said that Ms Flem­ing ‘came down the road taunt­ing me to come out of the gar­den and fight.’

Judge Alan Mitchell said that there was ‘un­ac­cept­able be­hav­iour on both sides and likened the in­ci­dent to an episode David At­ten­bor­ough’s Plant Earth, such was the level of ma­ter­nal in­stinct shown. He warned all par­ties that there are bet­ter ways to deal with such mat­ters and that he could bind them all to the peace if he saw fit to do so.

Judge Mitchell said that he is con­cerned about the con­vic­tion of one party be­ing a ‘vic­tory’ for oth­ers and he also re­minded both fam­i­lies of the im­pact of such feuds on chil­dren if they per­sist to the next gen­er­a­tion.

He found the facts proven in re­la­tion to the crim­i­nal dam­age charge and or­dered Ms Byrne to pay €189 to Ms Flem­ing within a week and then the mat­ter would be looked at again in court.

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