A witness in the trial of a south Longford pig farmer and his wife said that he feared for his life during an alleged period of detention in 2010.
The case before Judge Anthony Hunt at Longford Circuit Court relates to an incident arising from an attempt to repossess a generator.
Husband and wife Donal and Margaret Connaughton, from Elfleet Newtowncashel, face charges of falsely imprisoning or detaining or restricting the personal liberty of of Patrick Mulvey and Justin Tighe without their consent, of without lawful excuse threatening to kill or seriously harm the two men and assaulting to causing harm to both individuals.
Mr Connaughton also faces two further charges of damaging property belonging to Patrick Mulvey in that he damaged a JVC satellite navigation unit and a Nokia mobile phone.
Barrister Donal Keane, counsel for the prosecution, outlined in his opening statement the alleged actions. He said that on April 29th, 2010 at JAC Pigs Ltd, a pig farm enterprise owned by Mr Connaughton, two debt collection agents arrived in their yard to repossess equipment from the Connaughton’s 1,000 sow pig unit.
Mr Keane said there had been an issue with the repayment of a loan for machinery and that the two named alleged victims had gone to the house to repossess machinery for the outstanding balance of €2,500. He said the men were subjected to verbal and physical abuse and they attempted to escape but were prevented from doing so by Mr Connaughton and another man.
Repossession agent Patrick Mulvey gave evidence on the opening day of the trial. He said that he was employed by an asset security firm to repossess two assets from JAC Pigs Ltd. Payment on the assets was in arrears to GE Money.
He said that he arrived at the farm of Donal Connaughton at 10.45am accompanied by Justin Tighe, who was the driver of the large recovery truck. They parked the lorry at the entrance of the farm and got out.
Mr Mulvey said that the initial exchanges had been pleasant but that the mood changed quickly. He said that Mr Connaughton said they were trespassing and they had no warrants. He claimed that the men were subjected to verbal and physical abuse.
Addressing the court, Mr Mulvey said that at one point he had feared for his life. The witness claimed that Donal Connaughton had said that he ran the Brits out of Ireland and that he was not afraid of the “repo man”.
Mr Mulvey said: “He said that he was the devil and that he was going to eat our heads. He called us scumbags and Dublin Jackeens.”
The witness alleged that he was told that he could only leave if he took his clothes off. Mr Mulvey told the court that Mr Connaughton said that he had a wild boar and that it would help to change their mind.
The prosecution witness said that a pen was set up in the yard and a large black boar was brought out. Mr Mulvey claimed that Donal Connaughton said that the boar would do to them what would be done to them by inmates in prison and that he believed that he would be raped by the boar.
The witness said that Mr Connaughton asked if they had money and that they would need it to get a taxi back to Dublin, as Mr Connaughton said that he was keeping the lorry.
“He told us to kneel on the ground and beg for mercy. He made us say a decade of Our Fathers.”
The witness said that he was very shook after the incident and felt that he was lucky to be alive. He told the court that he had been treated in hospital for swelling on the brain as a result of punches he had received and had suffered long term memory loss.
The trial before a jury of five women and seven men is expected to last five days.