Jail for man who toppled 7ft statue of Virgin Mary
on 19/10/2013 00:00:00
Judge James McNulty, sitting at Bandon District Court, referred to the sense of outrage in a community that had erected and respected, for decades, a "monument to the faith" of many locals.
The accused, John Dzierzba, aged 26, who lives on Main St, Dunmanway, about 100 yards from where the damage was committed, had denied a charge of criminal damage.
At a previous hearing, Dzierzba had claimed a slightly built 13-year-old girl had brought down the statue by leaning against a wall and pushing it with her foot.
Judge McNulty said Dzierzba was evasive and untruthful in his evidence and, having heard the testimony of the 13-year-old and a 17-year-old, the court was satisfied of the accused man's conviction.
The judge said: "He contested the charges and sought to blame the juvenile while he was the older person. A man's strength and foot discharged the statue from its pedestal where it stood for a long time. The offence must have caused great distress in Dunmanway, where locals can no longer venerate the statue."
Judge McNulty said while Church attendances were falling and some have abandoned certain things in the Church which had been held dear, many would not approve of what the accused man did.
He sentenced Dzierzba to 10 months in jail for the criminal damage charge, but suspended five months of the sentence as a continuing deterrent, for the next two years, to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.
The statue was damaged on March 22, a night of what the court was told was "daft behaviour" when the defendant, along with two girls, took wooden chairs from a pub, moved a wheelie bin, and damaged a floral arrangement on the main street after they had been drinking.
Solicitor Ray Hennessy described the accused as "aged 26, going on 10".
"He's familiar to the courts," said Mr Hennessy, referring to previous convictions. "I can't understand the things he gets up to. The two young girls had come to town to meet up with him and go drinking."
"What happened afterwards defied logic," he said, "and I can't see what happened to the statue giving anyone any kick or thrills".
Mr Hennessy said Dzierzba lived with his mother, a single parent, and the accused man's continued actions had caused her great stress and admission to hospital.
He said the accused was always in the company of young people and claimed Dzierzba was "easily led". But Judge McNulty said it was the accused who led younger people astray.
Mr Hennessy said the accused does not realise the consequences of his actions "and the only time it bothers him is when he is being led away in handcuffs".
Also yesterday, Dzierzba was given jail sentences of three months and four months, to run concurrently, for permitting an uninsured person to drive his car. He was also banned from driving for four years.
The court also directed two years' probation service for the defendant, with the supervision to start while in prison.