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Fahan man jailed for eight months 03.09.12

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 22, 2011.
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 emergency services”.
“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 added.
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 concurrently.
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 Station.
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 judge said.
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 custody”.
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 the charges.
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 “house arrest”.
However, Supt English that Fair “flagrantly flouted” his bail conditions and, as a result, his bail was revoked.
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)
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