Man convicted of harassment for following a child in a Tipperary town

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A man who has been convicted of harassment for following a then ten-year-old child has been remanded in custody to appear again for sentencing.

53-year-old Michael Davis of Shortallstown, Dunnamaggan, Co Kilkenny, appeared before Judge Patrick Meehan at Clonmel Circuit Court yesterday afternoon for his sentence hearing.

On March 25th, 2016, Gardaí in a Tipperary town were called to the scene of a suspicious approach to a child.

On the date in question, a boy who was ten years old at the time was followed around a shop and then a field, before he ran to a bystander for help.

The whole incident lasted 27 minutes and the boy was in a distressed state when Gardaí arrived.

Following the viewing of CCTV footage and witness statements, Gardaí identified a suspect male and a suspect vehicle – a black 3 series BMW.

A significant Garda investigation ensued and Gardaí carried out a search warrant at the home of Mr Davis on April 7th, 2016. He was arrested on April 8th, 2016 for harassment of a juvenile and detained at Clonmel Garda Station where he was interviewed on five separate occasions.

David Humphries, the barrister for the State told the court it was apparent from footage and witness statements that Mr Davis had delayed his exit from the shop to leave immediately after the boy.

He then drove his car in the direction he saw the boy go and followed him into a nearby field.

A witness who had been watching from afar saw Mr Davis following the boy, before the boy came running towards them, crying and struggling to catch his breath.

The witness shouted at Mr Davis and he took off on foot, before driving away.

In a statement from the boy’s parents, they said the incident was followed by ‘sleepless nights, he was wetting the bed, was afraid the man would come back’ and that their son’s life changed forever that day.

The boy’s father took to the stand and told the court the boy had no trust in adults and while he had previously been a happy, outgoing child, now he only wanted to stay at home where he felt safe.

Mr Davis apologised to the boy and his family in court for any distress caused.

Acting for the defence, Barrister David Bulbulia said his client had a senior position in a major food company, was happily married and had three young children.

He told the court Mr Davis since ‘lost his job, lost his family and he had to leave the country’.

Mr Bulbulia also referenced an incident from Mr Davis’ childhood, in which he accidently shot his brother, as a trauma which had been ‘bubbling under the surface’ for Mr Davis.

In considering the sentence, Judge Meehan read a psychiatric report, but felt it did not offer a satisfactory causal connection between the offence and the incident from Mr Davis’ childhood.

The crime carries a maximum sentence of seven years, but Mr Bulbulia for the defence appealed to the court to consider a suspended sentence or non-custodial punishment.

Judge Meehan directed for probation and psychiatric reports to be prepared and to be made available to the court by March 18th if possible.

Michael Davis was remanded in custody to Limerick prison and the matter will be brought before Clonmel Circuit Court for sentencing, once these reports are available.