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Cork District Court Alamy

Charges dismissed against landlords accused of assaulting students

The judge the landlords were entitled to use “proportionate force” against trespassers who hadn’t paid any rent.

A KERRY FATHER and son charged with throwing a student living in their property out on the street in his underpants had the case against them dismissed today.

Judge Marian O’Leary told Cork District Court that they Daniel and Donal Lynch were entitled to use “proportionate force” against trespassers who hadn’t paid any rent.

Daniel and Donal Lynch, aged 62 and 32 respectively, of Moanmore, Castleisland, were previously charged in relation to alleged offences which occurred at 4 Nursery View in Glasheen Road in Cork city on 11 August, 2022.

Both men faced identical charges of assaulting a male and female student, attempting to commit theft of a phone and trespassing to commit theft at 4 Nursery View. The landlords had vehemently denied the charges.

At a previous hearing of Cork District Court defence solicitor Joe Cuddigan claimed that the students staying in the house were “milking the situation and freeloading.”

However, the students had insisted they were willing to pay and that there had been a misunderstanding.

One of the students George Pendle told the court he was pulled out of bed by the men by his ankles while wearing nothing but his “jocks”.

However, it was alleged by the defence that Pendle kicked Daniel Lynch (62) in the chest which led the father and son to physically eject him from the house.

Today  at Cork District Court all charges were dismissed against both men by Judge Marian O’Leary.

Defence solicitor Joe Cuddigan said that there been quite widespread publicity about the case since the allegations were first made against his clients.

Mr Cuddigan thanked Judge O’Leary for the length of time the court had given the case. He said that his clients had suffered reputational damage arising out of the case.

“They were subjected to quite an amount of insidious comment when the matter came before the court initially, particularly in the media in Kerry.

“And ‘landlord’ in Kerry still has certain connotations in the post 1847 era and my clients suffered because of that.”

Judge O’Leary said that she wanted to make it quite clear that it was a “criminal prosecution” and not a “landlord and tenant” issue.

She said that a person is allowed to use “proportionate force” to remove trespassers from their property.

She said that regarding the five people living at the house at the relevant time of June, July and part of August 2022 only one of them ever had a lease and that expired in May of last year.

“She (the student) did not pay any rent during the June to August period.

“Of the four people who were residing in the property (with the student who had the earlier lease ending in May) they entered the property without consent and did not pay any rent.

They were trespassers on the property on the property and the owners were entitled to enter the property and ask the trespasser to vacate immediately.”

Judge O’Leary said that having regard to evidence before the court there was no implied lease or letting agreement in place.

Judge O’Leary said the state in their prosecution of the landlord and his son had not reached the threshold to prove they were trespassers.

The Judge said that having heard the evidence from the students and the memo of the garda interview with the father and son she had a ‘reasonable doubt’ that assaults had taken place. Judge O’Leary dismissed the remaining assault charges.

The case opened earlier this year at Cork District Court.

Student George Pendle told the court his friend Sarah Corby had stayed in the property on the Glasheen Road for the full academic year. He had graduated from college in the summer of 2022 and was working part-time in a bar.

Mr Pendle said that Sarah had been informed by a letting agent acting on behalf of the family that she could rent the property for the summer with several of her friends. George moved into Nursery View in the summer of 2022.

Mr Pendle said that he was “man handled” by Daniel and Donal Lynch who “burst” into his bedroom on 11 August.

“Two men I had never seen before were bursting into my room. One was about sixty and the other was about thirty ish. They tried to forcibly take my phone. One of them gave me a slap on the face. I had a mark on my eyeball.

“The pulled the duvet off me. And between the two of them they pulled me by the ankles towards the door of the bedroom. I was in my jocks (underwear).

“All the while I was asking what was going on. I had never seen them before. I was on the street.

“It made me feel awful. It is horrendous to be pulled out of my bed by two men you have never seen before. I was wondering what was going on. I was manhandled down the stairs.”

Mr Pendle said that the locks had been changed by the men and that they had to contact letting agent, Mark Gosling, in order to get their property from the premises.

Mr Pendle said that he hadn’t paid any rent because the letting agent, Mark Gosling, hadn’t come back to them with a price.

He refuted suggestions by solicitor Joe Cuddigan that he was going to do a ‘midnight flit” and not pay rent. Mr Cuddigan said that Pendle was living there “rent free” and “had no intention to pay.”

Mr Cuddigan said that the the young people in the house were in effect squatters as they had not paid any rent. The house has five bedrooms which were all occupied that summer.

Another housemate Olivia Lehane said that she heard male voices on the morning of the alleged offence.

“I could hear banging as if someone was falling down the stairs. I was in bed. I was very frightened. I was grabbed by the older man and I was pulled out (of my room) very roughly. I was being pushed and shoved out the door. I had no shoes on.”

Sarah Corby told the court that she heard shouting on the morning of the alleged offence.

“I could hear George shouting downstairs. I was in the attic room. He (George) was shouting ‘get the f**k off me’. I could hear a commotion downstairs.”

Ms Corby said that Donal Lynch told her to get out of the house. She said that she was informed that she was trespassing.

Ms Corby said she followed Mr Lynch down the stairs. She then saw Daniel Lynch whom she recognised.

“I shouted at him that it was a miscommunication between the letting agent and the landlord that they knew we were there and not trespassing. I followed the two men and the other tenants outside.

“They (the Lynch’s) told us that the locks were changed. They told us we were not allowed (back in) to get our stuff. Olivia was crying because she had no shoes on.

“The young man (Donal) said he had got George before and would get George again.

“We were pleading with them to resolve the situation.”

Ms Corby said she had exchanged texts with a partner of one of the men that summer about a leak and the grass being cut.

Mark Gosling of Behan, Irwin and Gosling Commercial Estate Agents said that whilst enquiries had been by Sarah Corby to rent the property for the summer there was no tenancy agreement in place. He said he had assumed the property was vacant and the students had left.

Mr Gosling said that he had put the suggestion of a summer rental to the Lynch’s but had “never heard back from the landlord or Sarah.”

Mr Gosling said that he assumed the short-term rental wasn’t going ahead. In August, he became aware that people were staying in the house. He went to the house and left a letter asking the students to contact him urgently.

He said he didn’t receive a response. He went to the house on the evening of 9 August 2022 where he was met by George Pendle. He said George Pendle agreed to pass on his details for the other tenants to pay rent but nobody contacted him or his staff in the coming days.

He said that he informed the landlord that he had made contact with one of the tenants about collecting rent. Mr Gosling said he was contacted by George Pendle on 11 August 2022 who asked for his assistance.

Mr Gosling said he went to the house and five people were outside. He said the young people were upset and George and Sarah weren’t properly dressed. George Pendle told him that he had been assaulted during the incident. He said he rang the landlord to arrange access to the property. Mr Gosling was asked by Mr Cuddigan if he viewed the people living in the house as squatters and he said he did.

In garda interviews, Daniel and Donal Lynch indicated that when they went to the house on the day of the alleged offence they thought the property was empty. They met at 8am and changed the lock on the house. They heard noises in the property and realised people were staying there.

The court heard that the men claimed that they had been treated in an aggressive manner by one of the men. It was claimed that Daniel Lynch was kicked in the chest by George Pendle.

Daniel Lynch said in his garda statement that he “wanted everybody out and nobody hurt”.

He said that his house in Nursery View had been “left in a wreck with clothes and rubbish” strewn throughout. Judge O’Leary heard that the landlords were down €5,000 in rent for the summer.

Olivia Kelleher