Longford defendants plead guilty after seven day trial collapses

Four defendants who pleaded guilty after their trial collapsed on day seven of proceedings during a recent sitting of Longford Circuit Court, will be sentenced in  May.

Paddy Stokes, Tommy Stokes, Gary Stokes and Patrick Stokes all with addresses in Longford appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson charged in connection with an incident at Dillon’s Bar in Ballinamuck on March 5, 2015. 

All defendants were charged with violent disorder, criminal damage at the premises and assault causing harm on the date in question. 

Paddy Stokes and Tommy Stokes were charged with assaulting James Mongan and causing him harm, while Gary Stokes and Patrick Stokes were charged with assaulting Anthony (Patrick) Mongan and causing him harm on the same date. 

The four were remanded on bail and ordered not to make contact with any members of the Mongan family. 

“If you break this, I will send you to prison,” added Judge Johnson before pointing out that he had “serious concerns” since it emerged during earlier proceedings that witnesses in the case had been interfered with.  

“If I find out this is happening,  bail will be revoked.”

The defendants also entered into a bond to keep the peace and hand over their phone numbers to the Gardaí so they could be contacted at any time within a 24 hour period. 

“I accept what happened on the night in question was appalling; outrageous in fact,” Judge Johnson continued before asking Garda Liam Staunton to act as  mediator between the parties  until the May 23 sentencing date. 

“I want these gentlemen to seriously consider restitution and recompense in relation to this - this is what restorative justice is all about.

“Some of the behaviour that was brought to my attention during the course of this trial was disgraceful and should not happen in a civilised society,” the Judge continued referring to information received regarding money being offered to witnesses to withdraw from proceedings altogether, and threatening gestures made through the doors of the courtroom to jury members. 

“If there are any problems whatsoever I will revoke bail.” 

Opening matters, Mr John Barnes, Counsel for the State said the case centred around a 50th birthday party that took place in the north Longford bar in March of 2015.

“A fracas broke out,” he added. 

“Damage was caused at the premises and two men were assaulted.”

In his direct evidence to the court, Garda Staunton said that he arrived at the scene following a call to attend Dillon’s in Ballinmuck where a disturbance had taken place on the night in question. 

He said he met with James Mongan who had cuts on the left hand side of his head.

“One of the cuts was so severe, there was a deep piece of flesh hanging from it,” added Garda Staunton before pointing out that the injured party was also covered in blood. 

“AnthonyMongan was also seriously injured.

“Members of the Mongan family said they were assaulted by the Stokes family.” 

The court was then told that after further investigation, Garda Staunton discovered the ladies toilets at the premises covered in blood, glass strewn across the floors and damage caused to doors and other fixtures and fittings. 

“There was blood everywhere - the scene was horrific,” added the Garda. 

“James and Anthony Stokes were taken away from the scene by ambulance and removed to hospital.” 

The injured parties, the court was told, while slow in coming forward to give statements in respect of the matter to the Gardaí, eventually did so.

 During their direct evidence to the court, the Mongan brothers said they had no idea how the fracas started but James was the first to be assaulted and when Anthony went to assist him, he too became injured. 

They stated clearly in their evidence that they were stabbed with glass and beaten and were in fear for their lives throughout the ordeal. 

Anthony, the court heard, eventually managed to grab his brother and the pair got to safety by barricading themselves into a toilet cubicle. 

James lost consciousness at that point, the court was told. 

During deliberations, Judge Johnson was also critical of the way in which the trial was handled by the State. 

He said he had been led to believe proceedings would last only three to four days and yet  they continued on until day seven at which point the trial collapsed due to a number of factors. 

“It is not satisfactory,” the Judge told Mr Barnes BL. 

“This is the first time this has happened in my career, however it will not be a complete waste of time if these men do the right thing.” 

Following a 30 minute break, the defendants and their four barristers returned to the courtroom where they pleaded guilty to the charges before the court. 

“I want peace to reign,” added the Judge before adjourning matters to May 23 next.