A father of three who struck his own cousin in the back of the head with a machete on the side of a busy Longford road last year, has been sentenced to nine months in prison.
Patrick Stokes (29) 6 Cartron Breac, Longford was found guilty at a special sitting of Longford District Court last week of assault causing harm to Patrick Stokes, Corboy, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford contrary to Section 3 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.
The incident, which occurred on July 23 2018 on the main N4 at Lamagh shortly after lunchtime, resulted in the Edgeworthstown man being airlifted to hospital after he was also struck and knocked down by Mr Stokes’ mother Kathleen, moments after the attack.
Mr Stokes said such was the scale, gravity and trauma of the incident, he admitted there wasn’t a single day in which he did not think about his ordeal.
“I just remember waking up on the ground covered in blood,” he said before a hushed courtroom in front of Judge Erin McKiernan.
“It’s had an awful, awful effect on me.”
Earlier, Mr Stokes told of how he had been on the outskirts of Longford town, travelling in the direction of Carrick on Shannon when he first came across the accused. He said soon after exiting the roundabout at McGrath’s Garage to proceed onto the main N4, he came across Mr Stokes in another car with his wife, Carmel while shaking his fist.
The victim, who intimated at how there had been tension between himself and the accused prior to the incident, said he carried on in the direction of Newtownforbes before deciding to pull in at a furniture store in the hope of giving his pursuer the slip.
Within seconds of continuing on his journey, Mr Stokes said his cousin appeared for a second time, this time flashing his lights. A short time later, he took the decision to pull into the hard shoulder upon which both the defendant parked up behind and a white Transit van suddenly pulled up in front of his own vehicle.
Unable to move, Mr Stokes said he was soon approached by his aggressor who took off his Manchester Utd jersey and began remonstrating at him to “get out of the car”.
To try and diffuse the situation, he said he made the conscious decision to do what his cousin asked.
“I thought I could reason with him,” he said.
“I said I didn’t want no trouble.”
In the midst of those exchanges, Mr Stokes said he soon began to realise the predicament he was in was about to get a whole lot worse.
“He stayed at the side of the car for a minute and on my way back (to car) I saw him reach into the car and pull out half a slash hook,” he said.
Rather than make a dash for his own car, Mr Stokes said he decided to try and disarm his assailant. After a brief struggle, Mr Stokes said he managed to secure the slash hook from his namesake only to be confronted by yet more trouble seconds later.
“The van then did a u-turn around to the right hand side of the road,” he recalled, stating its two occupants were brothers-in-law of the accused.
“They handed out a second weapon to Patrick. I still tried to reason with Patrick and said I wanted no trouble and that there was no need for it at all.”
Describing the weapon to be a machete, Mr Stokes said the accused suddenly ran at him, shouting: “Now you are getting it.”
He added: “I knew it wasn’t going to end well and that I wouldn’t be able to talk my way out of it.”
In a desperate attempt to save himself, Mr Stokes said he raced back to his own car for safety. Those attempts, however, were in vain as he was struck by a machete on the back of the head before being hit by a jeep driven by Kathleen Stokes, the accused man’s mother just seconds later.
“Just after the jeep hit me, I remember waking up on the ground and being covered in blood.
“I couldn’t move or anything and the way I was left I think about it every single day of my life,” he said.
One of the first on the scene was a lady doctor who tried to calm Mr Stokes down while ambulance personnel were called. Due to the seriousness of his injuries and concerns over when an ambulance may arrive, Mr Stokes’ brother appeared and drove him to the GP out of hours service, Midoc.
A medical examination uncovered not just concerns over Mr Stokes’ left eye but also substantive fears that he may have suffered bleeding to the brain. As such, a decision was taken by medics to fly Mr Stokes by helicopter to Dublin’s Tallaght Hospital.
In defence, the defendant’s solicitor Malcolm McDarby accused Mr Stokes of instigating the entire episode.
“You tell a good story,” he told him, claiming he had also goaded his client on Facebook with the challenge: “I will beat you like I beat you before”.
Mr Stokes denied this, describing the jibes as just “talk” and and comments which were made when he was 16. Mr McDarby said another reason for the unsavoury incident was due to Mr Stokes’ desire to see his client have his bail rescinded due to a suspended sentence which was still hanging over him.
“It was a win win situation for you whatever happened,” Mr McDarby alleged.
“You had the weapon and when he refused (to fight) you broke the window of his car, so you could get his bail revoked.”
Mr McDarby also asked how his client, if he was the culprit, ended up with cuts to his arm with the net result culminating in him requiring 28 stitches.
“You are the author of your own misfortune. You have been talking on Facebook long enough. You saw him on his own and and you saw this as your chance to get him,” he added.
Mr Stokes was having none of it, however, stating: “I was followed out on a public road by three vehicles , assaulted and left for dead on the side of the road.”
Investigating Garda Kevin Corcoran said when he arrived on the scene at 1:50pm, only the victim’s car, a green Skoda Octavia could be observed parked facing in the direction of Newtownforbes.
He described Mr Stokes as “pale” and “very anxious” as efforts were made to keep him as comfortable as possible while emergency services were called.
At around the same time, he said a colleague of his attended a house in Dun Darrach, just off the main Dublin Road where gardaí spoke with Mrs Stokes. In her own sworn evidence, Mrs Stokes said she raced to the scene after getting a call from her daughter in law, Carmel, to inform her that her son was badly hurt and that her three grandchildren who were sitting in the back seat were covered in glass.
The accused, meanwhile, denied any involvement and said he had been the victim of an attack while on his way to collect his English Bulldog in Donegal.
“I didn’t get out of the car. He said: ‘Get out and fight me you coward’. I never got out no slash hook. I would carry no weapon with a five year suspended sentence because I am nervous of it,” he said.
The court also heard details of Mr Stokes’ previous 33 convictions, including the two year prison sentence which was suspended for five years at Longford Circuit Court in May 2017 for criminal damage. In summation, Judge McKiernan said she believed the evidence given by the alleged victim in the case and described Mr Stokes’ actions on the day as nothing short of “outrageous”.
She sentenced him to nine months in prison and sentenced his mother Kathleen Stokes, of 21 Dun Darragh, Dublin Road, Longford to four months in prison for dangerous driving.She also banned her from driving for two years.
Mrs Stokes has since lodged an appeal and is due to appear before a sitting of Longford Circuit Court on October 9 2019. Mr Stokes, of Corboy, Edgeworthstown and the victim in the case, was ordered to pay €500 compensation for damaging a back passenger window on the same date at a sitting of Longford District Court on September 3 2019.
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