Driver jailed after placing 'lurid widow's curse' on garda that her family would die

A judge has jailed a man who told a female Garda he would have a "widow's curse" put on her after she stopped him on the road last May.

At Ennis District Court on Tuesday, Judge Patrick Durcan imposed an eight-month prison term on Martin Joyce (28) after stating that the Ennis man had imposed a "lurid curse" on Garda Elizabeth McDonagh on May 18 last at Beechpark, Ennis.

Judge Durcan imposed the jail term after stating that Mr Joyce of St Enda’s, Beechpark, Ennis had issued a "torrent of abuse" towards Garda McDonagh.

The judge said the evidence of Garda McDonagh in the case "is truly chilling", adding: "When the abuse wasn't having an effect from Mr Joyce's point of view, Mr Joyce in great detail imposed a curse on Garda McDonagh.”

Judge Durcan said: "Most people would be upset by the curse of the lurid, vivid and appalling nature that was uttered by Mr Joyce.”

In the witness box, Garda McDonagh recounted Mr Joyce’s words about the curse.

In response to Judge Durcan stating: “Tell me about this curse,” Garda McDonagh said: “Judge, Mr Joyce told me 'I am putting a curse on you. I will light a candle that your family will die and you will suffer grief in the next 12 months.

'When it happens, I will take pictures and send them to you and put them up for everyone to see. You will see within 12 months that your family or someone belonged to you will be dead.

'I am going to light a candle to give you the curse and I will get my mother to give you the widow’s curse and they will all be dying belonged to you.'

'In a category of its own'

Asked by Judge Durcan if she was upset over the words said, Garda McDonagh said: “This has never been said to me before.”

In response, Judge Durcan said: “As far I am concerned this puts this case into a category of its own as regards the level of seriousness.”

He said: “There are many people who dismiss that type of behaviour as falling into the realm of the Piseog and the world of the past but there are many, many people who become gravely upset when something like that happens.”

Judge Durcan imposed a five-month prison term on Mr Joyce for obstructing a Garda and a consecutive three-month jail term for driving without insurance on May 18 last.

Judge Durcan also imposed a 10-week prison term for the verbal abuse of Garda McDonagh to run concurrently to the eight-month jail term.

Insp Tom Kennedy said that Mr Joyce has 68 previous convictions including 45 road traffic offences that includes three for no insurance, four for driving without a licence and two for dangerous driving.

Included in the 68 previous convictions, Insp Kennedy said that Mr Joyce also has two previous convictions for violent disorder, one for assault and eight for theft.

A complete mental breakdown at the time

Solicitor for Mr Joyce, Tara Godfrey said that she has been instructed by Mr Joyce to apologise to Garda McDonagh directly for what Mr Joyce said and did on May 18 last.

Ms Godfrey said: “Mr Joyce had been taking drugs for his entire life practically, and suffering depressive symptoms, and he had been successful at coming off the drugs around the time of this incident, but the mental fall-out was huge."

She said: "Mr Joyce said that he was having a complete mental breakdown at the time and this doesn’t excuse what he said and he apologises for it."

Ms Godfrey said that Mr Joyce has suffered a lot of family tragedy with his father dying from suicide and his brother, John murdered in England in 2016.

Judge Durcan said that Mr Joyce has shown scant regard for the law of the land.

Judge Durcan said: “I want this message to go out loudly and clearly on my first sitting date of 2019 in so far as a certain element of our society in Co Clare think that for any reason whatsoever that they are entitled to wage a war on the Gardaí and that they are entitled to use excuse after excuse after excuse for their behaviour, that will not be accepted in this case.”

He said: “The reality is that we are living in dangerous and difficult times when the Gardaí are struggling with the evils out there threatening our society and when this kind of behaviour takes place, this court will have no hesitation in imposing heavy penalties.”

Judge Durcan later declined to accept an independent surety on behalf of Mr Joyce that would have allowed Mr Joyce secure bail pending an appeal and he was transferred to prison to commence his jail term.

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