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Mentally ill man who damaged de Valera's headstone given suspended sentence

John Moore, aged 59, broke the headstone in two and poured red paint over it.

Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin
Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin
Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

A MENTALLY ILL man who damaged the headstone of Eamon de Valera has been given a suspended sentence.

John Moore, aged 59, of Cherrymount Crescent, Marino, Dublin pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage to the headstone of the former President at Glasnevin cemetery on 25 January 2017.

He broke the headstone in two and poured red paint over it, causing €5,675 in damage, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

Shortly after the incident, gardaí found Moore drinking tea in the cemetery coffee shop with red paint on his hands. He told them he broke the headstone in two because he had issues with de Valera’s policies.

“He was sly and evil,” Moore told gardaí, adding he had “suffered through his policies”.

Handing down a suspended two-year sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan said it would be inappropriate to impose a custodial sentence on Moore, given his mental health difficulties at the time of the offence.

“It was the irrational act of a person having great difficulties in his life,” Judge Nolan said.

The judge said Moore had “grievances, real or imaginary” against de Valera and he “took it out” on the monument of the deceased statesman. He noted Moore has no previous convictions and is now receiving medical care.

The day of the incident

Garda John Beckett told Dean Kelly BL, prosecuting, that he was called to the cemetery on the afternoon of the day in question when de Valera’s headstone was discovered broken in two.

An employee came across Moore standing beside the broken monument. The four-foot headstone was also splattered with red paint, which the employee initially thought was blood.

Moore told the employee he was going for a cup of tea before walking off. When gardaí found him in the coffee shop, he had a hammer in his bag, the court heard.

Moore had a child who was buried in the cemetery. He told gardaí he was visiting the grave when he found himself at de Valera’s tombstone, “a man he had hated for 58 years”. He said he then decided to throw paint on it.

“Some of his explanations had a fantastical quality,” Mr Kelly said.

Justin McQuade BL, defending, handed up a psychiatric report on behalf of his client.

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Isabel Hayes

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