No jail for homeless man who was caught defecating in communal garden

No jail for homeless man who was caught defecating in communal garden

A homeless man caught defecating in the communal garden of an apartment block has been given a one month suspended sentence for trespassing.

Thomas Coleman (62) responded with “colourful language” when a resident who spotted him “answering natures call” removed his bike from the garden after calling gardai.

Gardai arrived and removed Coleman from the scene leaving his bike behind on the street and when he returned the bike, described as his “only asset”, was gone.

Coleman, with an address at Frankfort Avenue, Rathgar, Dublin was convicted by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of disorderly conduct and trespass at Clyde Road, Ballsbridge, on April 29, 2014.

He was acquitted of assault causing harm on the same occasion during the two day trial last month.

Coleman has 77 previous convictions dating back to the 1960's including public order, criminal damage, theft and misuse of drugs.

Judge Patricia Ryan noted that Coleman had suffered the loss of his bicycle which was his only asset and means of transport around the city and that this was a serious consequence to him.

Judge Ryan imposed a one month sentence which she suspended for one year and ordered Coleman to stay away from the apartment block and its residents.

Garda John Cahill told Garrett Baker BL, prosecuting, that a resident of the apartment block was woken by noise at about 5.30am and saw Coleman trespassing into the property with his bicycle.

Coleman defecated in the garden and gardai were alerted. The resident went down stairs and removed Coleman's bike from the property, bringing it out onto Clyde Road.

Coleman reacted by shouting violently at him. There was an altercation before gardai arrived and they witnessed Coleman “using colourful language in a threatening manner.” Coleman was described as “extremely irate.”

Coleman was acquitted by the jury of assault in relation to the altercation at the scene.

Gda Cahill agreed with Helen Whately BL, defending, that Coleman's bicycle had been left on the street when he was taken away in the patrol car. The bike was gone when Coleman returned for it.

Ms Whately said as a homeless person Coleman carried his belongings with him, including food, which had resulted in previous convictions for possession of knives and similar offences.

She said the disorderly conduct had occurred after his bike was moved and he had responded as his bicycle, which was all he had, was very valuable to him. He does not recall defecating in the garden.

Ms Whately said that as a result of his experiences in a state institution during the 1960s Coleman had “railed against society.” He has spent a large portion of his life homeless and was becoming frail and fragile as result of his lifestyle.