A YOUNG Inishowen man
has been jailed for eight months for making hoax
telephone calls in order to “divert emergency
services” during a time when a spate of arson
attacks were being carried out in the area.
Mark Fair (22) of Ballinahone, Fahan, was before
Friday's sitting of Letterkenny District Court
charged with knowingly making two false reports to
Letterkenny Garda Station on August 12 and August
Defending solicitor, Paudge Dorrian, asked Judge
Alan Mitchell to impose a community service order as
the offence was a “minor” one.
However, Judge Mitchell said Fair’s actions were
deliberate, put elderly people and the community in
fear and were calculated in order to “divert
“His actions were premeditated and deliberate and
were without reason. I consider the matter to be a
very serious one and, if I had the power, I would be
referring the case to the higher Circuit Court,”
Judge Mitchell said.
“The maximum penalty is 12 months in prison and or a
fine. In my opinion, this will require a prison
sentence because of the seriousness of the matter,”
He said he would take into consideration the fact
that Fair pleaded guilty and had already spent four
weeks in custody before jailing him for eight months
on each charge, with the second sentence to run
Fair laughed at gardai as he was led away from the
court in handcuffs to begin his sentence.
The court heard Fair made the false reports at the
same time as the Inishowen area was on high alert
after eleven separate arson attacks.
In one of Fair’s hoax calls, he claimed there was a
fire at Cockhill Chapel in Buncrana while the other
related to a “planned” attack on Buncrana Garda
Judge Mitchell noted that Fair had removed the SIM
card from the phone in the mistaken belief that the
calls could not be tracked to him.
“Maybe he did not realise that technology was at
such a level that the call could be tracked,” the
He added that Fair’s actions had caused a serious
amount of “nuisance and concern” within the
community in Inishowen.
A large portion of the case was taken up with legal
argument as Mr Dorrian asked the court to strike out
the charges against Fair had been put in “illegal
Gardai went to the High Court last week in order to
have his bail revoked after Fair repeatedly breached
his bail conditions.
However, Judge Mitchell dismissed Mr Dorrian’s
application adding that he could not re-open the
case as the defendant had already pleaded guilty to
Mr Dorrian said his client was a young man who had
“co-operated fully” with gardai.
“He could have disposed of the phone but he did not.
As a result of the garda investigation, there is no
question that my client was involved in any arson
activities. No one can suggest that the defendant
was involved in any arson attacks,” Mr Dorrian said.
However it was pointed out to Mr Dorrian, by Judge
Mitchell and Superintendent Kevin English, that Fair
was not before the court on arson charges.
Mr Dorrian said that his client remained silent
during questioning and only did so because he was
exercising his constitutional right.
He said his previous convictions were all for minor
public order related offences.
Mr Dorrian also criticised gardai, saying that
Fair’s bail conditions effectively amounted to
However, Supt English that Fair “flagrantly flouted”
his bail conditions and, as a result, his bail was
Supt English also strongly rejected any suggestion
that Fair had been “harassed” by gardai, adding that
he breached his bail terms on 19 occasions.
(The Donegal News)