Limerick man fined for travelling to work during lockdown

Garda Inspector Gearoid Thompston who prosecuted the case.

A JUDGE heard how a man travelled nearly 25km at the height of the Covid lockdown to do some plumbing for a friend, despite a ban on home visits.

Garda Elaine Freemantle told Newcastle West District Court that she got an anonymous call on January 12, 2021 about a visitor doing work in a house in Loughill West, owned by Patrick Scanlon.

She said that the restrictions at the time were at level 5 and stated that no non-essential work was to be carried out and there was a ban on inter-home visiting.

Before the court on a charge of breaching the Covid restrictions was Michael Ryan (60) of Ballingurane, Askeaton.

Garda Freemantle told prosecuting Inspector Gearoid Thompston that she was given a car registration and contacted the owner by phone.

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“I asked hm to explain why he was at the house and he didn’t,” the Garda said.

She told Judge Carol Ann Coolican that she then went to the house, where she was refused admission to the main residence and was shown by Mr Scanlon to the area where Mr Ryan was working.

“I saw there was work being done on an old fireplace. I wouldn’t have described that as essential work,” she told the court.

She said Mr Ryan was “uncooperative,” and didn’t advance any reason why he should be doing work at that distance from his home at the height of lockdown.

“I asked him to leave and he refused,” she added.

Giving evidence, Mr Scanlon said that the house was a 300-year-old cottage and that he was “trying to make it a home.” He had been living in the house since 2018.

He said Mr Ryan was in the house “connecting radiators as it was freezing.”

Mr Ryan – whose profession is in security rather than plumbing the court heard – was the only person he could get at the time, Mr Scanlon said.

Asked by Inspector Thompson how he had managed in the previous cold months of winter, Mr Scanlon said he had been relying on a stove.

Mr Ryan said he was not a builder by profession “but I do a bit of building. I was just helping a friend.”

Both men denied being uncooperative with Garda Freemantle.

Judge Coolican found Mr Ryan guilty of the offence, having heard that Mr Scanlon was living in the house since 2018 and “had managed to survive the previous four months in the house.” She fined him €300.