A man has been found guilty of assaulting his neighbour in a row sparked by straying cattle, while his partner has been convicted of blocking the road with a car, writes Noel Baker.
One witness in the case, Nuala O’Brien, became emotional as she told Bantry District Court of when her then 69-year-old father, Patrick, was struck by Daniel Hegarty, of Ardnamanagh, Schull in Co Cork, on June 15, 2015.
The court also heard that Ms O’Brien was hit by Mr Hegarty on the hand as she sought to shield her father, and that Mr Hegarty had been joined at the scene of the incident by his partner, Rosarie O’Donoghue, and as many as three of their children in what Judge James McNulty said was “a matter of grave concern”.
Neither Mr Hegarty nor Ms O’Donoghue, who lives at the same address, were present in court for yesterday’s hearing. Judge McNulty heard that a garda called to the family home on Wednesday to remind them of the case and Mr Hegarty had closed the door and locked it.
Mr O’Brien, a neighbour with land in Ardnamanagh, said he was driven up to feed horses and check his animals on the evening in question when he saw Mr Hegarty’s cattle had strayed onto his land.
He said he drove them towards commonage when Mr Hegarty arrived.
“He said ‘stop driving the cattle out’,” Mr O’Brien said, claiming that Mr Hegarty was “looking for a fight” and then gave him “a wallop” in the ribs.
Both he and his daughter, who cares for Mrs O’Brien, said Mr Hegarty called Mr O’Brien names, including “cowler nose” and “pauper” and made reference to the family’s council house. Ms O’Brien said she stepped in to defend her father from a blow and was struck in the hand, resulting in “sharp, quick and intense” pain.
Both said the car belonging to the defendants was parked across the road, denying the O’Briens a chance to leave. The court heard Ms O’Donoghue had arrived at the scene but had refused to move the car despite what Ms O’Brien said were “repeated requests”.
Calls were made to gardaí by Ms O’Brien’s partner and later by Ms O’Donoghue. The court heard Mr Hegarty, having left the scene, returned on a quad bike and repeated that the car across the road was not to be moved.
Ms O’Donoghue did finally move the car at the request of Garda Jamie Meaney, one of a number of Garda witnesses to give evidence.
Judge McNulty said he was satisfied that Mr Hegarty was guilty of both assault charges against him and that Ms O’Donoghue was guilty of having obstructed the road with a car. Both have previous convictions and the judge noticed the first conviction for both defendants was 10 years ago.
He also referred to a previous court appearance by Ms O’Donoghue in which she made reference to a high-level task force involving the office of the minister for justice and the Garda Commissioner.
Judge McNulty directed that warrants be issued for the arrest of the defendants.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.