Pair who "kicked the head off" passenger on Longford train put behind bars

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Longford Courthouse.

Two men who attacked another man on a train as it passed through Edgeworthstown have been sentenced to nine months in prison

Two men who “kicked the head off” a passenger on board a train as it passed through Edgeworthstown last year have been sentenced to nine months in prison.

Patrick Doonan, 62 Manorlands, Trim, Meath and Tony McDonagh, 75 Oaklands, Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim were handed the sentences at last week’s District Court sitting following an incident at Edgeworthstown Railway Station on February 16 2018.

Dubliner Albert Hynes had been returning to the capital after visiting his daughter in Carrick-on-Shannon when he attempted to stop the pair hassling a fellow passenger who was accompanied by a young child.

Mr Hynes said the row broke out seconds after he returned from the toilet.

“I went to use the loo and one of them went up right into your man’s face screaming and shouting at him and saying ‘That man is a minor too’,” he said.

“That’s when I said if he’s minor he shouldn’t be drinking or smoking on the train. That’s when the two of them just reigned down on top of me.”

Mr Hynes said despite his best attempts to defend himself, he was left with two black eyes and bruising to his forehead.

“They kicked the head off me and every other part of my body,” he said.

“They were coming at me from both angles.

“I had to stand up and try to defend myself but I stumbled down in between two seats and other passengers intervened.”

Mr Hynes said the assault seemed “like a lifetime” but in reality the incident only lasted the best part “of a minute or two.”

The court also heard at length from Irish Rail’s Corporate Communications Manager Barry Kenny.

He issued a public apology to Mr Hynes for his ordeal and said steps were being taken to address the rising scourge of anti social behaviour on Irish trains.

“I think to be fair efforts were made to prevent the incident and when it did begin gardaí were called and arrived very quickly with the two suspects being detained,” he said.

“Obviously it is shocking and while anti social behaviour is on the increase the overall majority of people who travel with us do without incident.

“We have increased our security patrols, we have doubled them over the last 18 to 24 months and we have found alcohol on a number of services which tend to be on group destinations to places like Westport on a Friday and Sunday when large groups are travelling on those trains.

“We have CCTV on all intercity trains now and we are in the process of putting customer service officers on every single train for passengers to report an issue to.”

In revealing talks had taken place with Mr Hynes over a “gesture” being made from Irish Rail to the Dublin man following his ordeal, it was suggested by Judge Hughes that a food concession be made his way.

“Your basically saying scoff what I want?” Mr Hynes replied to much amusement.

In defence, solicitor for Mr Doonan, Frank Gearty said his client was “disgusted” by what he saw when CCTV footage of the incident was played back to him.

Mr Gearty added Mr Doonan had difficulties in the past dealing with addictions to intoxicants but was willing to offer Mr Hynes compensation upon his release from custody.

“He lives at home with his mum and he has a six month old child himself,” he said, with Mr Doonan saying the birth took place while he was incarcerated.

A legal representative for Mr McDonagh said he too had endured battles with drugs throughout his early life and had been “let down by the system” in general.

In summation Judge Hughes described the incident as both “horrific” and “unprovoked”, an episode which required a custodial sentence for the pair. “The fact they (defendants) pleaded (guilty) and have little or no previous (convictions) is of particular significance vis a vis this case,” he said.

“Both have common backgrounds in the sense of drink and drugs and you are two young bucks.

“This deserves a prison sentence and is going to get a prison sentence. I consider what happened in this case very gravely. It was an unprovoked attack where he remonstrated with these two men who he thought were being offensive to another gentleman who was minding his child.

“A lesson from this can only be served by time in prison.”

He sentenced both men to nine months in prison, suspending five months of that term for a period of three years.

The duo were also banned from using public transport operated by Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) for a period of five years.