A garda inspector described the scene of an altercation between two Traveller groups at a pub in Co Westmeath on St Patrick’s Day as mayhem.
Insp Jarlath Folan was speaking at Mullingar District Court where 14 men faced a charge of violent disorder arising from the incident at The Stillery pub on Dominick St, Mullingar, on March 17 last.
He said gardaí were called to the pub where members of the Nevin and Joyce family had clashed at around 9.50pm.
“The gardaí were basically confronted by mayhem on entry,” Insp Folan told Judge Seamus Hughes.
On entering the pub gardaí had to separate the two factions and there was upturned furniture, blood and glass on the ground, said Insp Folan. Judge Hughes remarked that the pub had been “otherwise known as the slaughterhouse”.
Once the sides had been separated, Insp Folan said the Nevins were directed towards the front of the pub. However, he explained that some of those involved attempted to then gain access through the rear of the pub.
“Eventually the matter was quelled,” he said.
Insp Folan said a total of 18 gardaí, including members of specialist units, attended the incident. One garda sustained an injury — “he was out of work for some time, he had a cut to his eye”, said Insp Folan.
He told Judge Hughes that Garda members had to be withdrawn from other matters in order to assist with the incident. All of the accused are charged with violent disorder and the matter is to proceed on indictment, Insp Folan told the judge.
Judge Hughes said: “This is going to cost the taxpayers of this country.” Whether the accused are guilty or not, he said it “will be a gravy train for solicitors and barristers in the circuit court”.
In his estimation, Judge Hughes said the cost to the State could be in the region of €200,000. He also expressed concern about the extra pressure it could potentially put on the circuit court.
He noted “this particular incident cause widespread dismay and upset amongst the business people, particularly in Dominick St”.
Judge Hughes said management of the pub had been transferred since the incident.
While accepting the decision to proceed to trial was the DPP’s prerogative, Judge Hughes expressed surprise that the DPP had opted for trial on indictment without giving the option of signed pleas. He pointed out that the district court can impose severe custodial sentences.
Judge Hughes explained that he was making the comments “without any criticism” of the DPP but in order for the DPP to “reflect” on the issue.
Each of the defendants was granted cash bail of €500 with strict conditions. On hearing that defendants were seeking legal aid, Judge Hughes said it was “amazing” that €7,000 in cash could be produced at the court for the 14 defendants yet nobody could afford legal representation. “The whole thing is a joke, an absolute joke,” said Judge Hughes.
All 14 defendants were remanded on bail to reappear at Mullingar District Court on March 10 for service of the book of evidence.
The defendants are John Joe Nevin, aged 31, of Abbeylands, Mullingar; John Nevin, aged 46, of Columb Drive, Mullingar; Daniel Nevin, aged 27, of St Michael’s Halting Site, Mullingar; John Nevin, aged 32, of St Michael’s Park, Mullingar; David Nevin, aged 24, of Ardleigh Vale, Mullingar; John Nevin, aged 31, of Grange Crescent, Mullingar; Mike Nevin, aged 18, of Kilsallagh, Edgeworthstown, Longford; Hugh Nevin, aged 29, of Ashfield, Mullingar; John Joyce, aged 41, of Ard Grainne, Moate; Joe Joyce, aged 25, of Ard Grainne, Moate; David Joyce, aged 35, of Hazelwood, Coosan, Athlone; David Joyce, aged 28, of Ard Grainne, Moate; David Joyce, aged 36, of Farnagh, Moate; John Joe Joyce, aged 27, of Farnagh, Moate.
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