27 Jun 2022

Four convicted of Longford Christmas violent disorder incident warned not to celebrate 'favourable' court outcome

Suspended sentences given to four accused of engaging in violent disorder on Longford streets

Three men and one woman involved in a violent disorder incident which took place before Christmas 2019 have been warned that "under no circumstances" are they to celebrate a "favourable" outcome at today's sitting of Longford Circuit Court.

Martin Nevin (60), 67 Farnagh, Longford; Helen Nevin (36), 7 Victory Court, Earl Street, Longford; William Nevin (34) 64 Grian Ard, Ardnacassa Avenue, Longford; and Johnny Nevin (25), 12 Legion Terrace, Richmond House, Longford all appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson this afternoon charged with violent disorder and production of implements during what Judge Keenan has referred to as and incident of "extremely violent behaviour".

The accused were four of 12 people before the courts for the feud-related incident which occurred between the Nevin and Doyle families on the morning of December 16 on Longford's Main Street. A number of others accused of being involved in the incident are still due to appear before Longford Circuit Court.

Detailed evidence was given in court today by Detective Sergeant Keelin Brennan who said the incident included the throwing of bricks, rocks and the production of various implements including a meat cleaver, an iron bar and a pitchfork.

CCTV played in court showed the extent of the violence, as well as a number of people, including children, running for cover. Footage also showed traffic backed up on the streets of the town.

However, when asked by Judge Johnson if the matter has "settled down" since the incident, Detective Sgt Brennan said he believed it has.

"And from the Nevins' point of view, I do believe they're aware of the foolishness of getting involved," he said.

"They have accepted they'll never be the best of friends but will be able to live peacefully. They saw the CCTV showing vulnerable people running for safety and they understand the fear they put into the community. They were oblivious to that but they are mindful of it now."

The court heard that, while Martin Nevin, William Nevin and Johnny Nevin could all pay €1,500 in compensation towards the people of Longford via a town rejuvenation scheme. Helen Nevin, however, was unable to come up with the funds.

Turning to sentencing, Judge Johnson said the "face off" on Longford's Main Street was "a very violent confrontation".

"This was extremely violent behaviour including the throwing of rocks and arming themselves with iron bars, meat cleavers and other implements," he said, adding that the "outrageous altercation" lasted approximately five minutes and was clearly a cause for fear among the people who were carrying out Christmas shopping on the day.

Noting the number of children present on the CCTV footage, Judge Johnson labelled the incident "completely and utterly reprehensible", stating "the court will not tolerate it".

Aggravating factors listed included the aggressive nature of the violence, the fact the accused were armed with weapons, the throwing of rocks, with Judge Johnson noting "it was fortunate nobody was injured".

Other factors included the effect the incident has had "on the businesses of Longford, the reputation of Longford and the citizens of Longford".

"The citizens of Longford have put up with far too much feuding and it has to stop. The reputation it gives the town is unjustified and unfair," he said.

Mitigating factors include an early plea of guilt from all four of the accused and at the height of the Covid pandemic when resources would not be available for trial.

He noted the accused were also "clearly remorseful" and made significant admissions to gardaí, making no effort to hide their guilt or culpability. He also acknowledged that the accused were engaging with mediation.

Turning to sentencing, Judge Johnson noted that Martin Nevin had armed himself with a meat cleaver and was "one of the leaders of the attack", attracting a headline sentence of seven years.

Judge Johnson explained that the same headline sentence was true in the case if William Nevin and, taking into account the mitigating factors outlined, was prepared to reduce that sentence to four years for both Martin and William Nevin.

He suspended that sentence for ten years on the condition that the two men enter into a bond of €500 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of ten years, and that they continue to engage with mediation services.

In the case of Helen Nevin, Judge Johnson accepted that she was "least culpable", having thrown one brick and then engaged in verbal abuse.

Ms Nevin attracted a headline sentence of four years, which Judge Johnson reduced to two years and suspended for seven years on the condition that she enter into a bond of €500 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and to engage with mediation services.

She was also told to pay €1,500 to the town centre rejuvenation scheme within one year of conviction.

In the case of Johnny Nevin, Judge Johnson noted a lack of previous convictions and accepted that the incident was "out of character" for Mr Nevin.

He attracted a headline sentence of five years, which he reduced to three years and suspended it for ten years on the condition that she enter a bond of €500 to keep the peace peace be of good behaviour and that he engage with mediation services.

The monies in court were ordered to be transferred to the town centre rejuvenation scheme.

Standing up to address the court, Mr Shane Geraghty BL for the prosecution made the suggestion that the accused could not celebrate the outcome in court.

"This is a favourable outcome in court today. Under no circumstances should they be celebrating," he said.

"Absolutely," said Judge Johnson. "You all have very significant prison sentences hanging over you. You're to go home quietly and there is to be no celebrating under any circumstances. There is nothing to celebrate."

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