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The court was told that the witness was distressed and afraid after Johnathan Kenny's (40) gesture. Alamy Stock Photo

'Ordinary decent citizen' giving evidence in court subjected to 'psychic assault'

The accused pointed to his eyes then gestured towards a witness, the court heard.

AN “ORDINARY, DECENT citizen” who gave evidence at a Dublin District Criminal Court hearing was left in fear after the accused man made a threatening gesture towards them in a courtroom.

After his conviction for an offence of trespass, Jonathan Kenny (40) pointed to his eyes, then gestured towards a witness who gave evidence at the sentence hearing on 8 September 2022 in Courtroom 4 at the Criminal Courts of Justice.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today that the injured party told the investigating garda about the incident. Other members of An Garda Síochána also saw what had happened, including Kenny showing his biceps in a gesture of strength.

The investigating garda told the court that the injured party was distressed and afraid in the wake of Kenny’s gesture.

Kenny was acquitted of the offence of trespass following an appeal in which the injured party gave evidence without issue, the court was told. There has been no further contact between Kenny and the injured party.

Kenny, of Monasterboice Road, Crumlin, Dublin, was originally charged with witness intimidation, but pleaded guilty to assault, which was acceptable to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

He has 108 previous convictions, including for robbery, assault and theft. He is currently serving a custodial sentence on separate matters and has an earliest release date in February 2027.

Imposing sentence today, Judge Pauline Codd noted that a gesture made by someone with Kenny’s previous convictions can be “more threatening“ than any physical assault.

She said the injured party was an “ordinary decent citizen” who was subjected to “outrageous behaviour”. She added that the assault offence can refer to psychological fear caused, rather than a physical injury.

She described it as a “psychic assault”, which had been “successful in terms of its target” who was left in fear for their safety.

Judge Codd noted the injured party states in their victim impact statement that the experience has made them re-consider coming to court again, and that they have “understandable” concerns for their safety.

She said Kenny’s “substantial” number of previous convictions along with the context in which the offence occurred are aggravating factors.

Having considered the mitigation, she imposed a sentence of four months, suspended in full for two years on strict conditions.

Judge Codd directed that this suspended sentence start on the expiry of the custodial sentence Kenny is currently serving. She also ordered him to stay away from the injured party, their home and their family for the period of suspension.

A victim impact statement was handed to the court, but not read aloud.

The investigating garda agreed with defence counsel that the guilty plea was valuable. It was further accepted that Kenny has a history of substance abuse and has been in custody since December 2021 on separate matters.

Defence counsel asked the court not to extend his client’s time in custody. His client wished to apologise to the injured party.

Counsel said it was an emotional time for Kenny who had a “burst of energy”, but accepts he shouldn’t have behaved as he did.

Kenny has addiction issues, but has been clean since going into custody. He has completed a number of courses and intends to study for a degree.

The court was asked to take into account that Kenny was subsequently acquitted of the trespass offence, and that the assault was at the lower end of the scale.

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