Violent struggle not being taken seriously, says Longford judge

Lifelong injuries: Judge asks DPP to reconsider seriousness of injuries caused to gardaí

Jessica Thompson

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Jessica Thompson

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jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Violent struggle not being taken seriously, says Longford judge

Judge Seamus Hughes

Judge Hughes has insisted that the DPP review the files of a case in which two gardaí were violently assaulted, as the incident was not being taken seriously enough.

Hugh Myers, 18 Ardleigh Crescent, Mullingar, Martin Nevin Jnr, 1 Knockloughlin, Co Longford, and Martin Nevin Snr, 1 Knockloughlin, Co Longford, were both charged with the incident, which took place on August 10, 2019.

Martin Nevin Jnr was present in court last Friday. Hugh Myers was not present as he is currently serving a prison sentence.

Sgt Paddy McGirl told the court that gardaí in Granard received a call from the Nevin family on that date at approximately 9pm, asking them to remove Martin Nevin Jnr from the premises “because he was beating his pregnant wife”.

“Gardaí arrived at approximately 9.15pm and there were four females outside the premises, shouting and upset and requesting that Mr Nevin be removed,” said Sgt McGirl.

Gda Angela Keegan went inside and observed Mr Nevin Jnr and Mr Myers sitting on the couch, both intoxicated. She was also approached by Martin Nevin Snr who wanted Martin Nevin Jnr to be removed from the premises.

Gda Keegan spoke to Mr Nevin Jnr and, at that point, Mr Myers became abusive and instigated that Mr Nevin not be removed from his own premises, Sgt McGirl explained.

“Gda Keegan asked Mr Nevin to leave and at that point he was leaving. Gda Shane Carr was outside and when Gda Keegan came out with Mr Nevin, Mr Nevin approached Gda Carr and became abusive, calling him a cancerous, dying b******,” said Sgt McGirl.

“Mr Myers was encouraging and inciting this behaviour. Mr Nevin then lunged at Gda Carr who prevented a headbutt. Gda Carr and Gda Keegan attempted to arrest Mr Nevin but Mr Myers intervened and the two gardaí and Mr Nevin fell to the ground.

“There was then a violent struggle on the ground. Mr Nevin attempted to gouge Gda Carr’s eyes. There was also kicking and spitting by Mr Nevin,” Sgt McGirl continued.

“While they were on the ground, Martin Nevin Snr and Hugh Myers jumped in on top of them. There were now five on the ground in the struggle.”

It was only at this point, Sgt McGirl added, that Gda Keegan managed to call for assistance. She and Gda Carr were unable to effect arrest on Mr Nevin Jnr due to the obstruction of Mr Nevin Snr and Mr Myers.

“The struggle continued for a considerable amount of time. When they eventually got to their feet, Gda Carr and Gda Keegan tried to arrest Mr Nevin Jnr, but Mr Nevin Snr held Gda Keegan by the arm to prevent her from effecting arrest,” said Sgt McGirl.

“Gda Keegan informed Mr Nevin Snr that she was going to deploy pepper spray. When she was doing that, Mr Nevin Snr pushed his arm forward to deflect the pepper spray into Gda Carr.

“This diffused the situation somewhat and allowed Gda Carr and Gda Keegan to ensure their own safety. Mr Nevin Jnr, at this point, ran into the house and garda assistance arrived. The whole struggle lasted ten to 15 minutes.”

Gda Keegan was off duty for a month, the court heard, and suffered an eye injury. She has an eye infection which she explained still persists to this day, causing inflammation and pain, which she treats with eye drops.

But, she explained, she also suffers occasional blurred vision, for which she has to receive treatment in a clinic.

Gda Carr, the court heard, suffered a back injury in a serious road traffic collision a number of years ago, which was aggravated by this incident. He was off work for five months.

Addressing Judge Hughes, Gda Carr explained that his back was still very sore and that he has to get injections, which help with the pain for a few days before it flares up again.

In mitigation, solicitor Fiona Baxter explained that Mr Nevin Jnr had received a very serious eye injury as a result of an assault a few days earlier.

“He said he couldn’t cope with the disability and he started drinking,” she explained.

“This happened in August 2019. The injuries received by these gardaí are lifelong injuries. There was serious harm caused to them,” said Judge Hughes.

“Garda Carr was off duty for five months. That’s a significant matter. I’m asking you to refer the file back to the DPP. I most certainly would refuse jurisdiction but my hands are tied.

“The nature of the alleged obstruction by these people was at the high end of the anticipated criminal offence - even if there was no injury to the guards. To attempt to gouge out the eyes of the guard is very serious.”

Ms Baxter explained again that Mr Nevin Jnr had lost the sight in one of his eyes and “wanted to protect it from pepper spray”.

“He lost the sight in his eye, so he decided to try and do the same to someone else - a garda and a keeper of the peace,” Judge Hughes snapped.

“I would ask that the DPP be furnished with the facts and to adjourn this to September 18, 2020, to allow the DPP to reconsider the extent of the charge to be prepared.”