New appeal date set for neighbour's row at centre of Sargent resignation

A new appeal date has been set for a man convicted of an assault at the centre of a dispute, which triggered the resignation of former Junior Minister Trevor Sargent.

A new appeal date has been set for a man convicted of an assault at the centre of a dispute, which triggered the resignation of former Junior Minister Trevor Sargent.

Travel agency worker Dominic McGowan (aged 31), a constituent of Mr Sargent's in north Co Dublin, became embroiled in a row with neighbour Stephen Mulvany (aged 35) in September 2007.

McGowan claimed he witnessed a child trying to remove a road sign in his estate, Cardy Rock Close in Balbriggan

He reported the alleged act of vandalism to the child's parents but claimed he ended up being assaulted and head-butted by Mulvany, who lived a few hundred metres away in Cardy Rock Square.

In March 2009, McGowan was convicted of threatening and abusive behaviour contrary to Section 6 of the Public Order Act and fined €500 at Balbriggan District Court.

Mulvany, a father-of-three, was also convicted of threatening and abusive behaviour and of the more serious charge of assault.

He received a €500 fine and a four-month prison sentence but is seeking to have his conviction overturned at the Circuit Court in Dublin.

State's solicitor Gareth Henry told Judge Alison Lindsay that the case could not go ahead today, due to a witness being unavailable.

Judge Lindsay consented to a defence request for a lengthy adjournment due to Mr Mulvany, who remained silent during the case, having started a new job. His appeal will be heard on April 7 next.

Earlier the court had ordered the State to provide the defence with disclosure including letters by third parties.

Dominic McGowan had told Green Party TD Trevor Sargent, and then Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, at a constituency clinic in June 2008 that he was unhappy at also being summonsed to appear in court on a charge in relation to the incident.

Mr Sargent subsequently wrote to the prosecuting Garda, saying he believed it was "wholly inappropriate" for a summons to be proceeded with as witnesses for McGowan had yet to be interviewed.

The former Green Party leader stepped down as Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture on February 23 after accepting that he made “an error of judgement” in contacting gardaí about the case involving his constituent Dominic McGowan.

The revelation has also triggered a Garda probe into the leaking of the information to a newspaper, which led to Sargent's resignation.

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