04 Oct 2022

Former soldier changed locks after breaking into house as squatter

The man was brought before Letterkenny District Court

Letterkenny court house.

Letterkenny court house.

An ex-soldier broke into a vacant house in Letterkenny and changed the locks.

Derek Heffernan, a 38-year-old, with no fixed abode, was a squatter at the property at Meadowbank Park.

Heffernan was brought before Letterkenny District Court on a charge of causing criminal damage.

Detective Garda Michelle Kelly gave evidence of the arrest, charge and caution of Heffernan.

Detective Garda Kelly told the court that Heffernan had broken into the house and caused €100 worth of damage to doors.

Heffernan changed the locks and prevented the owner of the house from getting in.

Gardaí arrived and observed Heffernan in the house. When informed that he was a trespasser and ordered to leave, Heffernan refused.

When a locksmith gained entry to the house, Heffernan resisted arrest. At 5.10pm, he was arrested by Detective Garda McLoone.

Heffernan has ten previous convictions, which date back to 2008 and include eight public order matters, one assault and one road traffic.

Solicitor for Heffernan, Mr Patsy Gallagher said that his client, a 38-year-old single man, had a ‘distinguished career’ in the army before he was honourably discharged.

Heffernan spent some time oversees, which Mr Gallagher said had an affect.

“He moved up here for solace and to get a break,” Mr Gallagher said.

“He was in accommodation and his health deteriorated.”

Mr Gallagher said Heffernan, who is on disability allowance, accepted that he was a squatter in the property and had ‘levelled out’ while in custody at Letterkenny Garda Station.

Sergeant Gerard Dalton said that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed summary disposal and Judge Patricia Cronin accepted jurisdiction.

Heffernan was granted bail on his own bond of €100. He is to reside at his sister’s address in Kildare and the matter was adjourned to June 13, 2022 for the payment of €100 compensation to the homeowner. A default fine of €200 was set byJudge Cronin.

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