Shop owner fined for damaging tenant's van

Published: 9 Aug 2012 12:300 comments

Following a sustained series of attacks on a Spar supermarket in Belcoo, including ram raids, the owner of the property has appeared at Fermanagh Court charged with causing criminal damage.

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Martin Clancy, of Crumcruaghway, Belcoo, denied damaging a van belonging to the tenant of the property, businessman Noel Cox, and a mobile phone belonging to Mr. Cox's brother, Shaun.

However, he was found guilty of both offences and fined £1,000.

The court heard that Clancy owned the supermarket and leased it to Mr. Noel Cox but wanted the premises back.

Asked why it had taken two years for him to make a statement to the police about the matter, Mr. Noel Cox explained that it was being dealt with by police in Lisnaskea but following a sustained series of attacks on the property, including ram raids and cars being stolen, police in Enniskillen took the lead in the criminal damage case.

"This has been going on for two years and there's been an awful element of structural damage to the site," he stated.

Earlier his brother, Mr. Shaun Cox had given evidence that on March 18, 2010, he was driving up Railway Road in Belcoo and was about to make a right turn on to the forecourt of the supermarket when he saw Clancy "tight behind me".

He parked at the bottom of the yard and Clancy pulled up alongside him, opened the passenger door and began shouting at him: "You don't belong here."

Mr. Cox said Clancy then came around to the driver's door and punched him twice in the face though the open window before kicking and damaging the driver's door. He then returned to the passenger side, throwing items from the passenger seat at him, including his mobile phone, which landed on the ground and was damaged.

He described how Clancy then picked up a bin of cigarette butts and emptied it into the van.

Cross-examined by Clancy's defence barrister, Mr. Stephen Mooney, Mr. Cox said there were two or three CCTV cameras covering the forecourt but they weren't working because Clancy had come in and removed the recording equipment a few weeks earlier.

Mr. Mooney suggested he was lying. "It's the truth," stated Mr. Cox.

He agreed that his brother and Clancy were "not best friends" and there had been court proceedings in relation to the lease of the property.

Mr. Mooney suggested that what happened on this particular afternoon was that Mr. Cox drove on to the forecourt and flicked a cigarette butt out the window of the van in the direction of Clancy, who was collecting his elderly mother from the adjoining house, and that was the reason for the confrontation.

"No," replied Mr. Cox.

District Judge Liam McNally asked him if he was smoking at the time.

He replied that he might have been.

The court heard that Clancy was not arrested and questioned about the criminal damage until March 21, this year, two years and three days after the incident. The District Judge described the delay as "appalling".

Clancy gave evidence that his elderly parents lived in a house adjoining the supermarket and on March 18, 2010, he went there to collect his mother to take her to doctor's appointment.

He explained that he had another petrol station about a mile away and just across the Border in Blacklion.

"I was walking towards the car and Shaun Cox pulled into the forecourt and as he was going past me he flicked a cigarette butt out the window in my direction," stated Clancy.

He said he went down to where Mr. Cox had parked and asked him "in no uncertain terms" to come and pick up the butt.

"He told me he didn't have to. I told him he would have to," added Clancy.

He said Mr. Cox then pushed the van door against him, banging him on the knee, before getting out of the vehicle and running into the shop.

Clancy said he reached into the vehicle and crunched up a packet of cigarettes before throwing them into a bin.

Asked by the District Judge if that was something he should have done, he replied: "In hindsight, probably not, but I'm probably doing him a favour, by not having him smoking."

He denied punching Mr. Cox or removing the CCTV recording equipment from the supermarket.

Under cross-examination he agreed that there was a "difficult" relationship between him and Mr. Noel Cox.

"There was a tribunal going on to sort out the mess with the lease," he told the court, adding that the premises had been leased to Mr. Noel Cox for four years and nine months and that time had elapsed.

"I want the premises back," he stated.

The District Judge said he did not think Mr. Shaun Cox was telling the truth about the cigarette and that Clancy was not telling the truth about striking him.

He said that in all the circumstances he was satisfied that Clancy damaged the van and the mobile phone and convicted him on both charges.

He fined Clancy £1,000 and ordered him to pay £983.12 compensation for the damage to the van and £200 for the damage to the mobile phone.

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