Boys saw father slashed in face at graveyard ‘ambush’

Two young boys saw their father repeatedly slashed across the face with a carpet knife in an unprovoked assault at a daylight “ambush” at a graveyard in Ennis two years ago.

In the horrific assault, James Galbraith, aged 36, of Lissaniska, Ennis, sustained two long slash wounds across his left cheek to his ear and the scars were visible at Ennis Circuit Court yesterday.

Garda Colin Egan witnessed Mr Galbraith getting a hockey stick blow to the forehead that sparked what he described as “complete mayhem” at Drumcliffe cemetery involving between 15 to 20 people on August 27, 2013.

Garda Egan said Mr Galbraith received a further blow of a stick across the back while on the ground.

Eye witness and brother-in-law of the victim, Michael Doherty told the court Mr Galbraith was the victim of an “ambush” and said if gardaí had not arrived “someone would have been killed”.

In the case, Mr Galbraith was before the court with possession of an axe with intent at the graveyard on August 27, 2013.

However, Judge Gerald Keys directed the jury to find Mr Galbraith innocent of the charge after hearing the State’s case. He told the court Mr Galbraith “was savagely assaulted on three occasions and on the third attack when he was on the ground, he saw an instrument and picked it for the purpose of self-defence”.

Judge Keys said: “It would be improper and unconscionable for a jury to convict Mr Galbraith in the circumstances presented by the State... None of the three parties that the gardaí say savagely assaulted this man are charged with assault. There is something wrong.”

Counsel for Mr Galbraith, Lorcan Connolly BL said his client is disfigured from the attack and required plastic surgery for his wounds.

Mr Doherty told the jury the ambush took place after members of the Joyce family demanded that they meet up with the Dohertys at Drumcliffe to “prove a story”. .

He explained to the jury: “In the Traveller culture, if someone leaves a lie on you, you have to prove that it wasn’t the case and you go to a man of cloth, a priest and take the Bible and say you never said anything about these people. I told the Joyces to go to a priest, but they wanted it at their father’s grave. It is not right to go to a grave to do anything like that..”

Mr Doherty said the Joyces had taken another man, James Keenan, hostage in the back of the car as part of the ambush.

Mr Doherty said he saw Brian Joyce (21) of St Enda’s Beechpark, Ennis, slash Mr Galbraith across the face a number of times. “It only took a minute,” he said.

Garda Egan said the three Joyce brothers dropped their weapons when they saw the gardaí. He said he saw Mr Galbraith pick up an axe and give chase to David Joyce.

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