Gardai to investigate jury tampering claims

Gardai have been given six weeks to undertake a second investigation into an allegation of jury tampering in the trial of a Co Longford pig farmer.

Gardai have been given six weeks to undertake a second investigation into an allegation of jury tampering in the trial of a Co Longford pig farmer.

Fifty-five-year-old Donal Connaughton, Elfleet, Newtowncashel, Co Longford, was convicted by a jury at Longford Circuit Criminal Court last December of a number of charges relating to an incident at his farm in April 2010.

During that trial, the court heard how the south Longford farmer ordered two repossession men to strip naked and get into a pen with an “agitated” boar.

Mr Connaughton was found guilty of two counts of false imprisonment, two charges of threatening to cause serious harm, one count of assault and one count of criminal damage.

On a further charge of assault, he was found nit guilty while his wife, Margaret (53) was acquitted of all six charges she appeared on.

During the trial, jury members listened to audio recorded by one of the repossession men involved.

Patrick Mulvey and Justin Tighe, employees of Assets Security of Dun Laoghaire, told the court they feared for their lives after going to repossess items on behalf of GE Money.

Both men gave evidence that Mr Connaughton ordered them to strip and get into a pen with a boar they feared was going to seriously harm them.

The pair were told to strip, but when they refused, Mr Connaughton made them fall to their knees and say the ‘Our Father’ before being let go.

Ahead of Monday’s sitting of Longford Circuit Court in Tullamore, sentencing was twice pencilled in but was adjourned owing to defence applications.

Last February, Mr Connaughton called for a mistrial because of “evidence” he claimed to possess in relation to jury misconduct. The case was adjourned to June when the prosecution told Judge Tony Hunt nothing had emerged from the garda investigation.

However, an adjournment was granted to Monday following the appointment of a new legal team. Defence solicitor Patricia Cronin told Judge Hunt that she was making an application which the prosecution did not oppose.

Donal Keane, appearing for the DPP, said material had been supplied by Mr Connaughton to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) surrounding claims of jury tampering.

The judge said he feared “a game” was being played in a bid to delay “the evil day”.

He said: I’m getting very fatigued with the sight of this case.

“This is the last look,” he added, before adjouring the case for six weeks.