Appeal linked to Sargent resignation 'a matter of some delicacy'

A man's appeal of an assault conviction at the centre of a dispute, which triggered the resignation of former Junior Minister Trevor Sargent, was described today as “a matter of some delicacy” and adjourned until October.

Travel agency worker Dominic McGowan (aged 31), a constituent of Mr Sargent in north Co Dublin, became embroiled in a row with neighbour Stephen Mulvany (aged 35) in September 2007.

McGowan claimed he witnessed a child trying to remove a road sign in his estate, Cardy Rock Close in Balbriggan.

He reported the alleged act of vandalism to the child's parents but claimed he ended up being assaulted and head butted by Mulvany, who lived a few hundred metres away in Cardy Rock Square.

In March last year, McGowan was convicted of threatening and abusive behaviour contrary to Section 6 of the Public Order Act and fined €500 at Balbriggan District Court.

Mulvany, a father-of-three, was also convicted of threatening and abusive behaviour and of the more serious charge of assault.

He received a €500 fine and a four-month prison sentence but is now seeking to have his conviction overturned at the Circuit Court in Dublin.

State solicitor Mary Kate Halpin told Judge Rory MacCabe today that an adjournment was being sought.

Defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe told Judge MacCabe that he was consenting to the application.

“This is a matter of some delicacy and I think it should be put back until October, it will be for mention again,” he said adding that disclosure is being sought from the State.

Judge MacCabe adjourned the case until October.

Last month Mr Hanahoe had told the court that he was seeking “full disclosure including all letters”.

“Including letters by third parties,” he had added.

Dominic McGowan had told Green Party TD Trevor Sargent, and then Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, at a constituency clinic in June 2008 that he was unhappy at also being summonsed to appear in court on a charge in relation to the incident.

Mr Sargent subsequently wrote to the prosecuting Garda, saying he believed it was "wholly inappropriate" for a summons to be proceeded with as witnesses for McGowan had yet to be interviewed.

The former Green Party leader stepped down as Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture on February 23 after accepting that he made “an error of judgement” in contacting gardaí about the case involving his constituent, Dominic McGowan.

The revelation has also triggered a Garda probe into the leaking of the information to a newspaper, which led to Sargent's resignation.

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