Judge refuses bail to Longford man on assault charges

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

Email:

jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Longford court house.

A man charged with a section 3 assault has been denied bail by Judge Seamus Hughes following an appearance at Longford District Court last week.

Martin Nevin, 15 Canal Drive, Prospect Woods, Longford, was on temporary release from prison when he allegedly assaulted Bernard McDonagh on December 13, 2019.

Before the court last week, solicitor for the defence, John Quinn, explained that the accused’s temporary release had been revoked due to these charges and, should he be granted bail, the governor of the prison would reinstate it.

Sgt Paddy McGirl explained to the court that the State woule be strongly objecting to bail.

“I’m most reluctant to remand anybody in custody at the moment,” said Judge Hughes in reply.

Sgt McGirl acknowledged this reluctance but said that there were a number of reasons the state would be opposing MrNevin’s bail application.

He went on to explain that Mr Nevin had a number of previous convictions, the most relevant of which was from Longford Circuit Court on February 15, when he received a three-year prison sentence with 18 months suspended for two section three assaults and intimidation of witnesses.

“When you say most relevant, is there some element of intimidation of witnesses here?” asked Judge Hughes.

“That would be the State’s case, yes,” Sgt McGirl replied.

“That he’d try to force Bernie McDonagh to withdraw his case?” said Judge Hughes.

“Yes,” said Sgt McGirl, “he was granted temporary release on December 13, 2019, and this incident happened two days later. We’re of the mindset that he’d commit a further offence.”

Sgt McGirl also explained that Gda O’Connor has CCTV footage from a house on that terrace of good quality, which shows Bernie McDonagh running away and the accused and three co-accused chasing him with weapons.

“He has a young family. There’s evidence that Bernie McDonagh has been on Facebook saying he’s not injured,” said Mr Quinn in his client’s defence.

“We have photographs of the injuries, which were inflicted with a shovel and a machete,” said Sgt McGirl in response, handing in a number of photographs.

“The machete must have been very blunt,” Judge Hughes noted as he looked through the images.

Gda Shane O’Connor explained to the court that the injured party was driving his car on St Michael’s Road when a silver car with four occupants pulled accross him.

Mr McDonagh got out of the car and ran up the road, Gda O’Connor explained, adding that he has CCTV footage that shows him running past, followed by the four co-accused.

“A short time later, the four went back in the same direction,” said Gda O’Connor.

“The injured party was able to name them and made a statement. In his statement said the accused pulled him to the ground and he felt a slice.”

“It looks like a wound from a stanley knife or a small knife,” Judge Hughes noted from the photograph.

“He (Mr McDonagh) said the Machete was used when he put up his hand to defend himself and got a rap on the knuckles,” said Gda O’Connor.

Questioning Gda O’Connor, Mr Quinn asked if the three co-accused are also in custody for this offence. Gda O’Connor confirmed that the three were not in custody.

“They’re all on bail. There’s a Facebook video of Bernie McDonagh saying he wasn’t injured,” said Mr Quinn.

“Let me see it,” Judge Hughes demanded, but the video was not available to be shown.

“Who was the main ringleader?” Judge Hughes asked of Gda O’Connor.

“It’s hard to tell,” said Gda O’Connor who explained that the whole incident and ensuing feud was started when the windows were broken in the Richmond Street home of Mr Nevin’s brother.

Mr McDonagh, he added, is married into the Doyle family, with whom the Nevins were feuding.

“Since this attack, has there been any other interaction between the families?” Judge Hughes asked.

Gda O’Connor explained that these were the two families involved in a violent disorder incident on Longford’s Main Street the next day, December 16, but said that, since then, there has been no further interaction.

Judge Hughes notes that Mr Nevin’s release date from prison is May 15 and said that, even if he is granted bail on these charges, the accused will still have to finish out his current sentence.

“Why did he lose his temporary release? Because two days later he went out and acted the thug,” said Judge Hughes.

“Well, he got into trouble,” Mr Quinn offered in response.

“The conditions of his temporary release would have been laid out to him in prison before his release and one of those would be to keep the peace,” said Judge Hughes.

“He should be equally treated with the other co-accused,” Mr Quinn insisted.

“I take it they weren’t serving prison sentences or on temporary leave?” said Judge Hughes.

“No,” Mr Quinn admitted.

“He has several previous convictions. Some of the co-accused have no previous convictions,” Sgt McGirl clarified.

When Judge Hughes asked when Mr Nevin was likely to face trial, Mr Quinn explained that, under the current Covid-19 virus uncertainty, it could be October before the Circuit Court trial goes ahead.

“I’ll give him a fair compromise. He’s serving a sentence. If he consents to a remand in custody for 30 days, we’ll look at it then,” said Judge Hughes.

Unsatisfied with this idea, Mr Nevin said; “What they’re saying happened did not happen.”

Judge Hughes told Mr Nevin to take to the witness box if he would like to give evidence.

“If you challenge the State’s objection today, you will not be able to renew your bail application for three months. That’s the roll of the dice,” the judge warned.

“I’ve been punished long enough for something I didn’t do. I’ll go today,” said Mr Nevin, taking to the stand and confirming that he would be pleading not guilty.

“The CCTV footage will exonerate me because I believe there is CCTV footage that will show what happened,” he said, adding that he didn’t think Bernie McDonagh would incriminate him.

When Mr Quinn noted that there has been no trouble since, Judge Hughes asked Mr Nevin to explain why that was.

“Mediation. Both families knew they done wrong to each other and have made peace,” said Mr Nevin, adding that he had no P19s in prison for bad behaviour and that he had never breached his bail conditions.

“You’re saying that under oath,” Sgt McGirl prompted.

“As far as I know, I never did,” said Mr Nevin.

“Have you ever taken any bench warrants?” Sgt McGirl asked.

“For small things,” Mr Nevin admitted.

“You failed to turn up to court on five occasions,” said Sgt McGirl, listing off the five bench warrants that had been issued dating back to 2012.

“What were the conditions for your temporary release?” Sgt McGirl asked.

“To keep the peace,” Mr Nevin replied.

“February 15 was your most recent Circuit Court conviction. You were convicted of two section three assaults and intimidation of witnesses,” said Sgt McGirl.

“I haven’t been charged with intimidating witnesses,” said Mr Nevin.

“You were convicted of it,” Sgt McGirl repolied.

“I wasn’t aware of that. I got 18 months for the two section three assaults,” said Mr Nevin.

“There are no hard feelings between me and Mr McDonagh. We were good friends before this. If I get out, I’m a threat to nobody. I’m hearing talk that he’s even feeling bad for accusing me. I may be on the CCTV but I did not do it.”

Mr Nevin has 40 previous convictions, Sgt McGirl explained, many of which are assault, violent disorder or possession of weapons.

“I believe he should be treated the same as the other accused - on strict bail terms like they are,” said Mr Quinn.

“The State are extremely opposed. He is serving a prison sentence so even if I grant bail, he has to finish his sentence. The governor doesn’t pay attention to District Court. They do their own thing,” sad Judge Hughes.

“Mr Nevin was out on temporary release and that was a privilege. Despite that, he was involved in this very serious matter. I heard what he said about the feud being resolved. But he has an appalling record going back 20 years for violence.

“I’m reluctant to remand in custody but this is exceptional and I’m satisfied the state have a reasonable case. I’m refusing bail.”

With that, he remanded Mr Nevin in custody to Harristown District Court on April 17.