Farmer jailed for assault on neighbour

A hill farmer who ambushed and assaulted a neighbour on a remote road near the Cork-Kerry mountains was yesterday jailed for 12 months.

Farmer jailed for assault on neighbour

In evidence, father-of-four Brendan Kelleher, aged 53, blamed the break-up of his marriage on widower Martin Kelleher, aged 63 (no relation).

It also emerged the defendant’s daughter was Confirmed on the morning of the alleged assault but Brendan Kelleher did not go to the church ceremony and rejected a suggestion his emotions had got the better of him.

He was also convicted of criminal damage to a 4x4 but Judge James McNulty suspended a three-month jail sentence to deter any reoffending and “if peace is to be preserved in this little corner of the wild west”.

Martin Kelleher claimed the defendant’s 4x4 blocked a mountain road, near Millstreet Country Park, and in a 10-minute attack that followed, Brendan Kelleher allegedly used an iron bar to smash a side window, warning the witness: “I will kill you.”

The witness said the iron bar was used to try to lever him out of his own vehicle. “I knew if I got out of the jeep, I would be in mortal danger.”

An estimated €495 damage was caused to the side door and window of the 4x4 and the accused had warned Martin Kelleher not to go to the gardaí.

Brendan Kelleher, from Moulnahorna, Carrianima, Macroom, Co Cork, however, said he was not on the Macroom-Millstreet road at the time of the assault on May 16, 2012.

He contested charges of assault, causing harm to Martin Kelleher, and criminal damage to a motor vehicle.

Evidence had been heard at Macroom District Court on Wednesday and concluded at Kinsale District Court yesterday.

Martin Kelleher said the accused warned him on the day of the assault: “Lad, I have been watching you since 7am this morning, you need a hammering. Get out of the jeep.”

The witness told Judge James McNulty: “I was shaking, trembling, exhausted” after a 10-minute battering in his own 4x4.

A medical report from a GP who examined Martin Kelleher that day noted he was “anxious, distressed and frightened”. He had abrasions and scratches, a bruised and bloody left arm, multiple tears on his body, marks on his neck and a swollen elbow.

Answering defence solicitor Frank Purcell, Martin Kelleher denied having been involved in any recent incident, at that time, that could have caused the injuries. He also denied fabricating the evidence.

However, Brendan Kelleher, in evidence, also insisted: “I had nothing to do with it.”

Superintendent Liam Horgan, prosecuting, suggested: “Because of the day it was, your emotions got the better of you.”

The defendant repeated: “I wasn’t there that day.”

Brendan Kelleher said he and Martin Kelleher had been best of friends until Martin’s wife died. “My wife was minding her and that’s where it all started.”

The accused said: “I helped him when he was down, but when he was up, he stabbed me in the back.”

The pair live less than four miles apart and, 20 years ago, it emerged, Martin Kelleher lost the sight in his right eye when Brendan Kelleher, in close proximity to him, discharged a shotgun while they were hunting foxes.

Brendan Kelleher was not interviewed by gardaí about the assault until May last but Judge McNulty said his “recall of movements were so perfectly timed, to be a little strange and unlikely to be true”.

Jailing Kelleher for 12 months on the assault charge, the judge said it was a planned ambush and a terrifying experience for the injured party who, he found to be the more credible witness and whose evidence was supported by the medical report.

Bail of €5,000 was fixed for appeal purposes.

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