Man jailed for criminal damage at RTÉ

Tuesday 22 May 2007 22.00
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Paul Stokes - Sentenced for criminal damage to RTÉ building
Paul Stokes - Sentenced for criminal damage to RTÉ building
RTÉ - Stokes caused over €14,000 worth of damage
RTÉ - Stokes caused over €14,000 worth of damage

A 52-year-old man has been sentenced to two years in prison for criminal damage and reckless endangerment after driving his car into the front door of the RTÉ TV building in December last year.

However, Judge Desmond Hogan suspended the second year of Paul Stokes' sentence on a number of conditions.

Gardaí told Judge Hogan that they were concerned Stokes may try to contact broadcaster and presenter Pat Kenny or his family on his release.

The judge ruled that Stokes, of Montpellier Parade in Monkstown, Co Dublin, must enter into a bond to be of good behaviour and to keep the peace for a period of three years.

He must also undertake not to annoy, molest, interfere or contact in any way any employee of RTÉ or anyone contracted to RTÉ or their families.

Stokes must also enter into a bond with the Probation Service to comply with all its requirements in relation to such psychiatric care and treatment as may be required.

Judge Hogan said if Stokes did not comply with the bond, probation could apply to have the balance of the sentence reactivated.

The court heard that Stokes caused more than €14,000 worth of damage to RTÉ when he drove into the door on the evening of 2 December 2006.

He told gardaí his intention had been to make an impression in a peaceful and determined way, to cause as little damage as possible but to register his profound disgust at RTÉ's dealings with him.

He had previously interrupted the The Late Late Show.

Road safety 'fixation'

The court heard Stokes had developed a fixation with road safety and believed agencies including the National Roads Authority and RTÉ were not paying enough attention to a device he had invented which he believed could reduce road deaths.

The court was told Stokes was very, very ill at the time of the offence. His counsel, Sean Gillane, told the court he was so ill that psychiatrists for the State and the defence believed he was unfit to plead.

However, he has been in custody in the Central Mental Hospital and has since made some progress.

The court was told difficulties arose for him in the 1990s leading to the destruction of his business and the breakdown of his marriage.

Mr Gillane said 'clues were ignored' in relation to Stokes' descent into mental illness. He has one previous conviction for a public order offence in 2003.