‘Things are not good in Longford town... Judges need to do something about that’

Judge hands down prison sentence after Aldi car park assault

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Judge Seamus Hughes

Judge Seamus Hughes handed down an eight week prison sentence following Aldi carpark assault incident

A man charged in connection with a serious public order incident at Aldi car park, Longford, on October 19 has been sentenced to eight weeks in prison.

A bench warrant was issued for the arrest of John Robertson, Moatfarrell, Ballinalee, Co Longford following his failure to appear at Longford District Court two weeks ago.

Mr Robertson’s solicitor, Fiona Baxter, explained to Judge Hughes that his failure to appear was due to a number of threats on his life by “certain individuals”.

Judge Hughes made the comment that Mr Robertson was previously granted bail on the condition that he “keep the peace”.

Read more: Man held and woman hospitalised after violent Longford town row

Sgt Paddy McGirl, on behalf of the state, said that the prosecution was objecting to bail because “there are a number of matters before the court”.

Mr Robertson was charged with using threatening and abusive behaviour following the incident at Aldi car park, which left his partner in hospital.

“He does enjoy the presumption of innocence,” said Ms Baxter in her client’s defence, explaining that Mr Robertson’s partner was seriously assaulted and brought to hospital.

“He accepts he overreacted at the time. His partner was seven weeks pregnant. She has since lost the baby. He was trying to protect his partner on the day. He has a two-year-old child who has to have an operation in January and he wants to be there for the child and for his partner.”

Addressing the judge himself, Mr Robertson alleged that his sister was the one who assaulted his partner on the day.

Sgt McGirl explained that, when gardaí arrived at the scene, Mr Robertson was behaving in a threatening and abusive way towards passers-by who were trying to help his partner following the assault.

Read more: Longford man charged over Aldi car park row fails to show for court

“He threatened his sister that he’d ‘smash her f-ing head in’. He was aggressive to by-standers and gardaí. He had to be pepper-sprayed,” Sgt McGirl explained, adding that the defendant has 87 previous convictions.

Ms Baxter implored the judge to be lenient, explaining that the incident was in defence of his partner and that Mr Robertson would comply with strict bail conditions and reside at his parents’ house.

“His mother has confirmed that there are no difficulties between him and the rest of the family,” she said, adding that “prison is not working for him”.

Unsatisfied with this comment, Judge Hughes retorted that, on the contrary, “not enough prison” was not working for Mr Robertson.

“I’ve done over 12 years in prison already,” Mr Robertson interjected.

“It will work if he’s put in prison every time he commits an offence,” said the judge.

“He has a persona of two fingers to authorities and this town. This is a great town, but there is an element in the town who are ruthless and don’t care about the reputation they’re giving the town. Judges need to do something about that.”

With that, Judge Hughes sentenced Mr Robertson to eight weeks in prison.

“Four weeks, judge,” remarked Mr Robertson.

“Eight weeks,” Judge Hughes responded, before concluding, “things are not good in this town”.

Read next: Time to take action on ‘drab’ car park, say Longford councillors