Five Limerick men who were involved in a pitched battle in the city today began their appeal against their jail sentences.
The battle outside Supermacs fast food restaurant on the Ennis road three years ago took place at the height of the city’s bloody gangland feud and involved makeshift weapons such as baby high chairs and wet-floor signs from the restaurant as well as snooker cues, a golf club and a steering lock.
At the Court of Criminal Appeal, lawyers for Kieran Ryan (aged 22) of Pineview Gardens, Moyross; Edward McCarthy (aged 26) of O’Callaghan Avenue, Kileely; Patrick McCarthy (aged 34) of College Avenue, Moyross; David McCarthy (aged 29), also of O’Callaghan Avenue, Kileely, and David Sheehan (aged 22) of Cliona Park, Moyross, argued that they had been punished far more than the men who started the fight.
They all received sentences of six years for violent disorder, except for David McCarthy, who was jailed for five years and three months after pleading guilty to the offence.
Senior counsel Anthony Sammon, representing Kieran Ryan, said the sentence handed down to him was remarkably lengthy.
He said he was not aware of any greater sentence being handed down for violent disorder and compared it with the lesser sentences given to football hooligans in England and those convicted for violent disorder in connection with the death of teenager Brian Murphy outside Club Anabel in Dublin in 2000.
“It was not the most serious type of violent disorder to come before the courts. All that can be said of him (Ryan) is that he was present bearing a (sweeping) brush,” he said.
Ryan came to national attention in 2003 when he and a friend disappeared for a week and then turned up unharmed after claiming they had been abducted.
Mr Sammon said the jury in the trial had heard evidence about the violent gangland feud in Limerick, which had started in 2000 when criminal gangs fell out over drugs and had led to four people losing their lives.
There had also been evidence that the feud had involved petrol bombings, gun attacks on houses and attempted pipe bomb attacks.
“The result of that is that my client fears he’s being sentenced not for the offence of violent disorder, but for the perception that he’s been involved in feuding and violent activities,” said Mr Sammon.
The court heard evidence that the five men before it had been eating a meal in Supermacs on May 27, 2003, when they heard that two members of a rival gang had arrived in a van outside.
They grabbed makeshift weapons from the restaurant and rushed outside with one of them, David Sheehan, going into Funland and renting out two snooker cues.
They confronted the two men in the car park and later had to deal with another two men who turned up in a Volvo car armed with a golf club and a steering lock.
The 90-second pitched battle was broken up by members of the Garda sub-aqua unit who had arrived on the scene.
Senior counsel Andrew Sexton, representing Patrick McCarthy, said the trial judge had failed to distinguish between the initiators of the fight and his client, who he said was not one of those who started it.