27 Jun 2022

‘I am ashamed’, says Longford woman involved in street row

‘I am ashamed’, says Longford woman involved in street row

A Longford woman has told of her "shame" and "embarrassment" at being caught up in a violent disorder incident in Longford town which resulted in another woman receiving a number of punches to her body in front of startled shoppers.

Ann Lawrence (59) 17 Camlin Meadows, Farneyhoogan, Longford expressed her regret over an incident along Longford town's Ballymahon Street on June 5 2019.

It was revealed on that occasion Ms Lawrence, along with four other women from her immediate family, namely Caroline Lawrence (24), 13 The Keys, Market Square, Longford, Mary Lawrence (30), 1 The Hollows, Longford, Mary Lawrence (38) 87 Ardnacassa Avenue, Longford and Rebecca Lawrence (27) 39 Great Water Street became embroiled in a row with members of the Stokes family.

It was alleged the incident stemmed from a row over a relationship which had started between a member of the Lawrence and Stokes families, an accord which local solicitor John Quinn said was still in existence despite those tensions and two alleged incidents where cars had been set alight.

"There was an incident outside Aldi where a car was driven at them and they were set upon," said Solr Quinn, defending, adding the majority of incidents reported to gardaí all occurred in April 2019.

As well as all five women being charged with violent disorder, fifty-nine-year-old Ms Lawrence was also charged with assault causing harm and the production of an article.

The court heard Mrs Lawrence had been observed holding a bat, something the Longford woman claimed she happened to stumble across on.

"That bat wasn't mine," she said.

"It was Margaret Stokes' and I picked it up."

Judge Hughes rubbished those version of events, however, claiming Ms Lawrence's suggestion was, at best, fanciful.

"When I walk up the streets of Longford I see these things all the time," said Judge Hughes, in reference to the alleged weapon picked up by Ms Lawrence.

Sgt Mark Mahon intervened by stating the Stokes' were not in a position to defend their name owing to a family funeral.Detective Garda Orla Geraghty was asked if the dispute between both sets of families had calmed in the months since.

"It has settled somewhat, but tensions are still high," she said.

Mr Quinn backed those assertions by giving further context as to what sparked the start of the feud.

"Margaret Stokes came in and gave evidence of how she was attacked and in fairness to her she made very little of the injuries she received," he said.

"It was a bad enough incident, but it was the culmination of all the intimidation that had been going on and this relationship, despite everything is still going on."

For her part, Ms Lawrence said she was extremely regretful over her own actions and did intimate her hope that both sides could, in time, bury the hatchet.

"I am ashamed, I'm very embarrassed and really affected by it," she said.

"I was intimidated, but they (couple) are still together and doing great."

Asked by Judge Hughes if she was acceptive of any nuptials being exchanged down the line, Ms Lawrence was unequivocal in her response: "They have my blessing," she said.

"I will make sure they have a good day. I will invite Margaret Stokes and if she wants to come, she is more than welcome. I am really embarrassed by what I done."

In taking his time to decide on what course of action to take, Judge Hughes hinted at how it might be "too premature" to conclude the case at this stage.

"You never know, we might all get an invite to it (wedding)," he smiled.

"Their behaviour will be monitored. These offences carry 12 months, so there is no rush to deal with it and I can come down much tougher if they misbehave in the meantime."

A violent disorder charge levelled against 38-year-old Mary Lawrence was struck out after it emerged she had been on the periphery of the dispute.

"If there are no further incidents, the court will take a lenient view by way of a fine," he said.

“If there are any further incidents, a likely suspended or custodial sentence will follow and I won't hesitate in lashing it out at all of them.

The case was adjourned until December 14, 2021.

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