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Man in court charged with latest graffiti attack on Luke statue

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Michael Dunne was in court charged with criminal damage

Michael Dunne was in court charged with criminal damage

Michael Dunne was in court charged with criminal damage

A Dublin man has been charged with damaging the inner city statue of singer Luke Kelly, which was defaced in a spray paint attack.

Michael Dunne (47) appeared in Dublin District Court after being arrested over the latest damage to the sculpture, which has been repeatedly targeted by vandals since it was unveiled.

Mr Dunne, whose address was given as the Sophia Housing Project, on Sean McDermott Street, is charged with criminal damage last Sunday.

He is not charged in connection with any of the other vandalism incidents.

Cameras

Judge Ann Ryan granted him bail on condition that he stays away from the statue on Guild Street in the Docklands.

Objecting to bail, Garda David Kelly told the court the statue was damaged by blue spray paint at 4.45pm on Sunday.

He said there were 13 CCTV clips from garda cameras, and inside and outside the building where the accused lives.

Mr Dunne was seen in the general area for a period before the incident and returning to his home where he entered the apartment, wearing clothing matching that of the person who damaged the statue, Gda Kelly alleged.

The footage showing the damage being caused was of "very good quality" and had been viewed by a community garda who identified Mr Dunne.

In a search of the accused's address, clothing seized was an "exact match" for that worn by the person who committed the offence, Gda Kelly said.

Defence solicitor Jenny McGeever said the proposed evidence was that her client was seen in the general area, but he did not live "a million miles away".

Mr Dunne would say the clothing seized was not a match.

Ms McGeever said the damage to the statue was caused by blue spray paint and "nothing of that ilk was found on my client or in his property".

The clothing had yet to be forensically examined but there was no residue visible on it, the court heard.

Gda Kelly said that in the footage, when the offence was committed by the culprit, the spray paint was held "away from his person".

Notoriety

"It is not a clear-cut case in my view," said Ms McGeever, who asked the judge to set aside any notoriety around the case.

Judge Ryan said the accused was presumed innocent and the case was likely to remain in the district court.

The judge asked Mr Dunne if he would abide by conditions including staying away from the statue.

"No problem at all," he replied.

Remanding him on bail to September 8, the judge said he must also stay away from another Luke Kelly statue near St Stephen's Green.

Sunday's incident was the seventh time the €80,000, publicly-funded Guild Street statue has been vandalised since it was unveiled by President Michael D Higgins in January 2019, on the 35th anniversary of the Dubliners singer's death.