Garda: Gangs were out for blood

Two gangs were out for blood on bonfire night in Cork and some armed themselves with knives, sticks, meat cleavers, knuckledusters, and bottles.

Garda John O’Connell said the gangs took no heed of him and his colleague when they first arrived on the scene. “Bottles were thrown over our heads.”

He said that with the variety of weaponry found at the scene after several garda units had restored order, it was clear that both sides had been out for blood.

Judge Olann Kelleher said: “These people think they are above the law... I don’t know who they think they are. They have no respect for anyone in this city.”

Four people were sentenced yesterday over the incident last June.

The longest sentence — eight months — was imposed on John Heaphy, aged 27, of 13 Richmond Hill, Cork, who pleaded guilty to engaging in an affray in that he engaged in a violent disorder with others. Heaphy also admitted possessing a meat cleaver.

As he was being escorted out of Cork District Court to commence his eight months in jail he said: “On me back I’ll do it, boy.”

Solicitor Diarmuid Kelleher, defending Heaphy, said: “I am told that it was all about drinking too much on bonfire night. Words were exchanged. They have since made their peace. There in no difficulty between them.”

Judge Kelleher said: “There was malice and forethought. Look at all the weapons.” The solicitor agreed and accepted that they had gone home and “tooled-up” before returning with the weapons.

Brian Long, aged 20, of 6 Fota Lawn, Knocknaheeny, who had a machete on the night, and Adrian Murray, aged 20, of 3 Courtown Park, Knocknaheeny, who had knuckledusters, were given six-month suspended sentences for affray and possessing weapons.

Daithí Ó Donnabháin, defending Murray and Long, said both were competitive and successful athletes but that “a pack mentality fuelled by drink took over on the night”.

Diarmuid Kelleher said a fourth defendant, Stephen O’Brien, aged 27, who also admitted engaging in an affray, was the only one who had no implement. The judge said Garda O’Connell’s evidence was that O’Brien, of Foyle Avenue, Knocknaheeny, was the ringleader on one side of the incident and sentenced him to six months in jail.

Asked what was behind the violent dispute on the night, Garda O’Connell said they were not able to establish the cause but that it had been rumoured that it related to a fatal traffic incident some years earlier.


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