By Gordon Deegan

A 53-year old west Clare farmer caused over €50,000 worth of damage to his mother’s home with a digger over two years ago, a court has heard.

At Ennis Circuit Court on Monday (April 19), counsel for the state, Lorcan Connolly, told a jury that John Morrissey “took the digger to his mother’s house for reasons that are best known to himself”.

The barrister stated that the damage to the home “was to the tune of over €50,000”.

Not guilty plea

In the case, John Morrissey of Clonreddan, Cooraclare on Monday 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.

Morrissey also pleaded not guilty to the criminal damage of the house contents and to the external garage and external septic tank belonging to Mary Morrissey on the same date that formed part of the single charge.

Opening the state case against John Morrissey, Lorcan Connolly stated that “there is a family background to the case”.

The barrister stated that Mary Morrissey died last year and is the mother of 13 children, the eldest of whom is John Morrissey.

Alleged criminal damage to his mother’s home

The court heard that the alleged criminal damage on Mary Morrissey’s home at Alva, Cooraclare took place on Friday, December 13, 2019.

Lorcan Connolly stated that Mary Morrissey’s health was fading in 2018 and 2019 and in late 2019 she had gone into respite care into a nursing home as she had some dementia.

The state barrister stated that prior to going to the nursing home, she had been residing at her home with her son, Tom Morrissey.

The court was told that Mary Morrissey’s husband, also named Tom, had died in the late 1990s and it was after that when John took over the running of things at the farm.

Lorcan Connolly stated that it was intended after Mary Morrissey’s respite care at the nursing home, that she was would return to her home to spend Christmas with her family.


The barrister stated that no one saw John Morrissey carry out the damage and there is no CCTV of what is alleged to have occurred.

However, Lorcan Connolly told the jury that they will arrive at the “inescapable” conclusion that John Morrissey intended to deliberately cause the damage after hearing the evidence in the case.

The court heard that John Morrissey hired a digger from a local plant hire firm.

The trial is the first criminal trial to take place at Ennis Circuit Court in over one year as Covid-19 restrictions had put a halt to trials taking place since the pandemic.

The jury panel gathered at Glor Theatre in Ennis less than 1km from Ennis courthouse and was impaneled via videolink on Monday from the court with jury members bussed over to Ennis courthouse after they had been selected.

The jury has been spaced across the courtroom due to Covid-19 social distancing guidelines.

The trial continues today (Tuesday, April 20).