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Woman smashed windows of estranged husband’s tractor with golf club in €200k debt row

Judge Mary Larkin convicted the woman of criminal damage of the tractor and the possession of an article during a dispute and told her: “You took the law into your own hands wielding the golf club. You can’t go around wielding a golf club at anyone.”

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Gordon Deegan

A 62-year-old mother-of-six broke the windows of her estranged husband’s tractor with a golf club in a row over an unpaid €200,000 marital debt, a court has been told.

At Gort District Court, the south Galway woman admitted to smashing windows on her husband’s tractor in August 2020 with a golf club at a time when the man had not paid €200,000 arising from a 2019 family law court separation agreement.

A daughter of the estranged couple videoed her mother’s golf club attack on the tractor on her phone and the footage was played to the court.

Judge Mary Larkin convicted the woman of criminal damage of the tractor and the possession of an article during a dispute and told her: “You took the law into your own hands wielding the golf club. You can’t go around wielding a golf club at anyone.”

The woman’s solicitor, Charles Foley, told the court there was “a huge residue of bittiness” over the-then unpaid €200,000.

The couple reached a court agreement at the Family Law Court in February 2019 that the man would pay €200,000 by July 2019 and the woman would surrender her interest in the family home.

Mr Foley said the €200,000 was not paid over by the man until April 2021 - however, this was only after his estranged wife forcibly moved back into the family home and the farmer moved out of the home to live in Gort.

The woman told Judge Larkin: “I had nowhere to live. He owns three houses.”

Judge Larkin commented: “I kind of half-admire her for moving back into the house. Many is the person who was left waiting for their money in family law cases and they have to make do in the meantime.”

The judge said: “She is a woman who has her wits about her. She moved back into the house and put the maximum pressure on her estranged spouse to pay the money.”

The man said that the damage done to the tractor was put at €908.

However, Judge Larkin said she would not be asking the ex-wife to pay the cost of the damage because the husband had not paid interest on the delayed €200,000 payment.

In evidence, the husband told the court that a bar on the tractor door “is all that saved her from hitting me” during the incident on August 10, 2020.

The man said he had gone with his daughter to check on cattle in a field beside the family home near Gort.

“Only for the bar that was there that you pull in the door with she had me got. That is all that stopped her,” he said.

“I had blood on my hands and I had blood up here from glass coming on to on top of me and if the golf club had hit me it would have been a different case altogether.”

He said an allegation made by the defence that he had called his ex-wife and her parents “tinkers” was a “lie”.

Mr Foley put it to the man that the incident “arose from a bitter family law dispute and you are as culpable as she is”.

In response, the man said that was untrue.

He said there was a delay in paying the €200,000 because he “was trying to sell, it was slow to sell the land”.

The couple’s adult daughter told the court she went to check on the livestock with her father "because it was coming to a stage where it wasn’t safe to let him out by himself. If something happened, it would be one person’s word against another”.

She said there was bitterness around her parents’ break up.

“There was - but the way things were handled was very wrong. My mother breaking back into the family home because she hadn’t received her money was very wrong. She should have gone to court.”

She added: “If he hadn’t the money paid by a particular date, there was no need to cause conflict between parents and siblings. All it has done has driven more of a wedge between any of us.

“There are ways and means of doing things and this was done in a wrong way.”

She said her father was never bitter towards her mother. “He always said, ‘She was a very good mother to ye'. He would say, ‘She raised ye’.”

In a cautioned statement given to Garda Anthony Davoren at her door after the incident, the ex-wife told him that she used the golf club when her ex-husband drove at her with the tractor.

The woman told the court that her ex-husband told her “you will get nothing from me. This is my house. You are a tinker and all belonged to you are tinkers”.

The woman said that after she struck the tractor with the golf club she told her ex-husband “get out or next time you will get it”.

Mr Foley told Judge Larkin that his client was under a huge amount of stress at the time and in response, Judge Larkin said: “She might have been under stress but she was able to create stress.”

Judge Larkin said she would adjourn the case for a probation report on the woman and to allow both sides enter mediation.

“A day will come when their parents will die and I would like to think that all the children would go to the funeral of their mother and their father,” said the judge.

She adjourned the case to June 23 for the completion of the probation report.

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