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28/09/2021

Violent disorder at Christmas was "utterly reprehensible", says Longford judge

Violent disorder at Christmas was "utterly reprehensible", says Longford judge

Tullamore Courthouse, where eight of the accused appeared last week

Eleven men and one woman have received suspended sentences for their involvement in what Judge Keenan Johnson has described as “a completely and utterly reprehensible” incident.

Martin Nevin (60), 67 Farnagh, Longford; Helen Nevin (36), 7 Victory Court, Earl Street, Longford; William Nevin (34) 64 Grian Ard, Ardnacassa Avenue, Longford; and Johnny Nevin (25), 12 Legion Terrace, Richmond House, Longford all appeared before Longford Circuit Court last Tuesday.

Johnny Doyle (25), 5 Richmond Street, Longford; Stephen Doyle (53), 7 Richmond Street, Longford; John Doyle (40), 35 The Mill, Clondra, Longford; Joe Mears (35), 1 Richmond Street, Longford; Martin Doyle (23), Ferefad, Ardagh Road, Longford; Stephen Doyle Jnr (38), 2 An Cuasan, Lisbrack Road, Longford and Joseph Doyle (62), 1 Richmond Street, Longford; and Ryan Doyle (20), 61 Annaly Park, Longford, appeared before Judge Johnson on Thursday in Tullamore.

All twelve accused had pleaded guilty to a feud-related violent disorder incident which took place between the Nevin and Doyle families on the morning of Monday, December 16, 2019, with some also pleading guilty to the production of weapons.

Detailed evidence was given in court by Detective Sergeant Keelin Brennan who said the incident occurred at approximately 9.40am when the accused parties were collecting their social welfare payments.

The violent incident involved the throwing of bricks, rocks, bottles and the production of various implements including a meat cleaver, an iron bar and a pitchfork.

Detailed CCTV footage that was gathered from a number of premises and played in court last Tuesday showed the extent of the violence and the involvement of the Nevin family.

However, when asked by Judge Johnson if the matter has “settled down” since the incident, Detective Sgt Brennan said he believed it has on both sides.

“They have accepted they’ll never be the best of friends but will be able to live peacefully. They saw the CCTV showing vulnerable people running for safety and they understand the fear they put into the community. They were oblivious to that but they are mindful of it now,” he explained.

The court heard that, while Martin Nevin, William Nevin and Johnny Nevin could all pay €1,500 in compensation towards the people of Longford via a town rejuvenation scheme, Helen Nevin, was unable to come up with the funds.

Turning to sentencing, Judge Johnson said the “face off” on Longford’s Main Street was “a very violent confrontation”.

Noting the number of children present on the CCTV footage, Judge Johnson labelled the incident “completely and utterly reprehensible”, stating “the court will not tolerate it”.

“The citizens of Longford have put up with far too much feuding and it has to stop. The reputation it gives the town is unjustified and unfair,” he said.

Mitigating factors include an early plea of guilt from all four of the accused and at the height of the Covid pandemic when resources would not be available for trial.

He noted the accused were also “clearly remorseful” and made significant admissions to gardaí, making no effort to hide their guilt or culpability. He also acknowledged that all of the accused were engaging with mediation.

Turning to sentencing, Judge Johnson noted that Martin Nevin had armed himself with a meat cleaver and was “one of the leaders of the attack”, attracting a headline sentence of seven years.

Judge Johnson explained that the same headline sentence was true in the case of William Nevin and, taking into account the mitigating factors outlined, was prepared to reduce that sentence to four years for both Martin and William Nevin.

He suspended that sentence for ten years on the condition that the two men enter into a bond of €500 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of ten years, and that they continue to engage with mediation services.

In the case of Helen Nevin, Judge Johnson accepted that she was “least culpable”, having thrown one brick and then engaged in verbal abuse.

Ms Nevin attracted a headline sentence of four years, which Judge Johnson reduced to two years and suspended for seven years on the condition that she enter into a bond of €500 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and to engage with mediation services.

She was also told to pay €1,500 to the town centre rejuvenation scheme within one year of conviction.

In the case of Johnny Nevin, Judge Johnson noted a lack of previous convictions and accepted that the incident was “out of character” for Mr Nevin.

He attracted a headline sentence of five years, which Judge Johnson reduced to three years and suspended for ten years on the condition that he enter a bond of €500 to keep the peace peace be of good behaviour and that he engage with mediation services.

The monies in court were ordered to be transferred to the town centre rejuvenation scheme.

On Thursday afternoon, the court heard that the Doyle family brought a number of bricks to the scene, which were thrown back and forth, while CCTV footage showed a number of people, including an elderly woman and child seeking shelter in one of the locked business premises.

“Innocent bystanders were clearly terrified. This was completely and utterly reprehensible,” said Judge Johnson.

“It is wholly unacceptable that the Main Street should be held up, businesses closed, traffic backed up and Garda resources deployed.

“I’m satisfied that all of the accused went out with the intention to cause harm.”

The eight accused each had €1,500 in court, totalling €12,000. Judge Johnson ordered that €1,000 each go to the owners of two cars which were damaged in the incident. €2,000 is to go to the Board of Management at St Joseph’s school and €4,000 to Longford Tidy Towns. The remaining €4,000 will go to St Christopher’s School.

Stephen Doyle Snr demonstrated “appalling behaviour”, according to Judge Johnson, and attracted a headline sentence of seven years, which was reduced to five years.

Ryan Doyle attracted a headline sentence of five years which Judge Johnson said he will reduce to three.

Johnny Doyle had “a large degree of culpability” and attracted a six year sentence, which was reduced to four years.

Joe Mears’ involvement was “out of character” and he therefore attracted a four year sentence, which was reduced to two years.

John Doyle was “extremely culpable” as he brought the bricks to the scene, attracting a headline sentence of seven years, which was reduced to five.

Stephen Doyle Jnr attracted a sentence of five years, which was reduced to three years, while Martin Doyle had a three year sentence reduced to two years.

Joseph Doyle was given a three year sentence, which was reduced to two years.

All eight of those sentences were suspended for ten years on the condition that they each enter into a bond of €500 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of ten years, and that they continue to engage with mediation services.

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