A hurling coach who cut down a by-election candidate's posters claimed he had a "moment of madness" when his friend was getting no help after becoming homeless.
Mark Keely (48) got on a push bike and cut the cable ties on election posters, understood to have belonged to Fingal candidate Lorraine Clifford-Lee, which were placed on poles along the Naul Road, in Balbriggan.
Gardai received an anonymous call that a male was cutting down the posters and when officers arrived at the scene they caught the defendant in the act.
Landscape gardener Keely used a set of pruners to cut the cable off the posters, Balbriggan District Court heard.
Garda David White said a large number of posters were cut down but only one injured party made a complaint about nine of their posters.
"The other alleged injured parties did not wish to give a statement," said Gda White.
The defendant's solicitor said Mr Keely was only charged with causing criminal damage to one poster but accepts there were up to nine he cut down.
However, Judge Dermot Dempsey pointed out the other injured parties did not make a complaint about their posters.
The defendant, of Bremore Castle, in Balbriggan, admitted causing criminal damage to the election poster on Naul Road, Balbriggan last November 21. He has no previous convictions.
References from Dublin GAA County Board were handed into court. "He coaches children hurling and is regarded highly in GAA circles," the solicitor said, adding the defendant played hurling at minor and U21 level for Dublin.
The solicitor said the father-of-three cut down the posters because he "had a moment of madness".
"A friend of his became homeless and was getting no help from any quarters," the solicitor explained.
"He cut the cable ties but didn't damage the posters and they can be used again.
"He does realise how very serious it is."
The solicitor asked the judge if he could "deal with it in a certain way" as the defendant is "anxious" he doesn't get a criminal conviction.
Judge Dempsey told the defendant "you are not much of an example to children."
"But I will give him the benefit," he said, and struck the case out after the defendant handed in €500 as a charitable donation, which the judge allocated to Balbriggan Men's Shed.