Farmer told garda ‘I did a mad thing’ after using digger to cause €55,814 worth of damage to his mother’s home, court hears
A farmer phoned a garda to say “I did a mad thing” shortly after taking a digger to his elderly mother’s home, a court has heard.
Detective Garda Oliver Downes told Ennis Circuit Court today that John Morrissey (53) told him during the phonecall that his mother, Mary “was better off out of there” after the alleged criminal damage incident involving her bungalow.
Sgt Patrick Fitzmaurice – now retired – told the court that Mr Morrissey came to Gort garda station in December 2019 after the alleged criminal damage incident and told him “the house was his property and it wasn’t a crime to damage his own property”.
Counsel for the State, Lorcan Connolly BL, said an assessor’s report on the damage to the house put the cost of the damage at €55,814.
Mr Morrissey of Clonreddan, Cooraclare, Co Clare, has pleaded not guilty to the criminal damage of the external and internal structure of the home of his mother, Mary Morrissey at Alva, Cooraclare, on December 13, 2019.
Mrs Morrissey was not living in the house at the time as she was in respite care suffering from dementia.
Det Garda Downes told the court that he has known Mr Morrissey since childhood and during the phonecall Mr Morrissey told him: “She will not be able to return there – she is not being cared for.”
Det Downes said Mr Morrissey told him that he damaged the house with a digger and that it was a civil matter.
Mrs Morrissey, a mother-of-13, shared the house with her son Tom.
In evidence on Tuesday, a daughter of Mrs Morrissey, Nora, agreed with Mr Connolly that her mother made a will in 2016 where she bequeathed her home to John where Tom would have living rights to a garage and chalet.
Mr Connolly said Mrs Morrissey changed her will in 2017 and bequeathed the house to Tom instead.
The 2017 will was Mrs Morrissey’s final will and Tom Morrissey told the court today that the will was read out after his mother’s death last May and he was bequeathed the home.
Mrs Morrissey’s husband, also called Tom, died in 1997 and Nora told the court that the 115 acre family farm and two houses were passed onto John Morrissey in 2003.
Tom Morrissey told the court that when he came across the damage on December 13, 2019, “there was glass everywhere. The stairs was gone. My mother’s bathroom was gone”.
He told the court: “I cared for my mother as best I could.
“I was very close to my mother. I loved her dearly. She loved me.”
Mr Connolly said the family had a rota for looking after their mother and Tom looked after her on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays “and then someone else would jump into the breach”.
Another brother, Joe Morrissey, told the court that he felt “shame and anger” when he saw the damage to the property. He said he felt angry “that somebody could do that to my mother’s house”.
The case continues on Wednesday.