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Former soldier who broke into Donegal house and changed locks told to pay homeowner €100

Derek Heffernan (38) broke into the vacant house and changed the locks to squat

Derek Heffernan

Stephen Maguire

A former soldier who broke into a house in Co Donegal and changed the locks to squat in the house has been told to pay the homeowner €100.

Derek Heffernan, 38, appeared before Letterkenny District Court after the incident at the house at Meadowbank Park in Letterkenny on Saturday last.

Detective Garda Michelle Kelly told the court that she arrested Heffernan following the standoff.

The court was told that Heffernan broke into the vacant house and changed the locks.

When Gardai arrived he refused to leave despite being a trespasser.

A locksmith was called but Heffernan continued to refuse to leave and then resisted arrest before being detained at 5.10pm.

The accused man's solicitor, Mr Patsy Gallagher, said his client had been in the army but had been 'honourably discharged' on medical grounds.

He moved to Donegal to get some solace and although he was initially in rented accommodation his health had deteriorated.

Mr Gallagher said his time spent in custody in the past couple of days had "levelled him out."

Judge Patricia Cronin was told that Heffernan had a place to stay at his sister's home in Kildare.

Mr Gallagher said his client is seeking to have treatment arranged by the army.

She adjourned the case until June 13th to allow time for €100 to be paid in compensation for any damage caused to the house.

If this is not paid, Judge Cronin said she would impose a fine of €200 on the accused.

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