Woman guilty of criminal damage following row over children
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.