TWO US army veterans in their 80s have been fined €5,000 each for interfering with the operation of Shannon Airport as part of an anti-war protest three years ago.
At the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin yesterday, a jury acquitted Ken Mayers (85) and Tarak Kauff (80) of criminal damage to an airport perimeter fence and of trespassing the airport with the intent to commit an offence or interfere with property.
The jury returned a majority verdict of guilty on the separate charge of interfering with the operation, safety or management of an airport by entering the runway area and causing the airport to close.
At a sentence hearing earlier today Tony McGillicuddy SC, prosecuting, told the court that the penalty is a fine not exceeding €250,000, two years in prison or both.
Carol Doherty, BL, defending Mr Kauff, asked the court to consider the age of her client and the fact that he has already spent just under two weeks in Limerick prison and has been unable to return to his family in the United States.
Michael Hourigan BL, defending Mr Mayers said his client has been fully cooperative throughout both the investigation and the trial. He highlighted his client’s age, his educational history and that he has also spent 13 days in Limerick prison.
Judge Patricia Ryan said that Shannon Airport was closed for 40 minutes and said it was a serious offence. She said she was taking into consideration mitigating factors such as the men’s cooperation, age, and excellent work history and that neither men have any previous convictions.
She also noted that both men had already spent 13 days in prison and were required to remain in Ireland for the past nine months.
Judge Ryan fined the men €5000 each. She noted that both men already lodged €2,500 as condition of their bail. She has requested that a further €2,500 each be lodged as soon as possible.