07 Dec 2021

Edgeworthstown woman accused of hatchet possession following search

Longford Courthouse.

A woman whose family were caught up in a bitter traveller feud in Longford was expected to reappear in the local district court this week after allegedly being found in the possession of a hatchet.

A woman whose family were caught up in a bitter traveller feud in Longford was expected to reappear in the local district court this week after allegedly being found in the possession of a hatchet.

Jayne Ward, Lisnanagh, Edgeworthstown appeared in court last Friday in front of Judge John Brennan after being stopped by gardaí at Cloonahussey, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford.

Detective Garda Orla Geraghty told the court of how she and colleague Detective Garda Sean Galvin were on patrol on the night of November 2, 2019.

At around 7:30pm, she said she spotted two vehicles parked just off the main N4 between Longford and Edgeworthstown beside the former ballroom, The Fountain Blue.

Detective Geraghty said one of those was a BMW car which contained Jayne Ward, who was sitting in the front passenger seat.
She said as she spoke with Ms Ward, a blue and white hatchet could be seen in the front footwell beside the accused woman’s feet.

Detective Geraghty said Ms Ward offered up no reasonable explanation, insisting she bought it for chopping wood.

Ms Ward was cautioned, the car was searched under Section 16 of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act and was ultimately seized.

Detective Geraghty also added there were two small children sitting in the rear of the car.

She went on to reveal how the Stokes family had, at the time, been involved in an ongoing feud with a rival family from the Longford area.

Under cross examination from defence solicitor Bríd Mimnagh, Detective Geraghty disagreed with the Longford solicitor’s assertion that her client had never been arrested or questioned in connection to allegations her family were involved in a feud.

“She has no convictions,” added Ms Mimnagh, again prompting Det Garda Geraghty to disagree as she outlined how Ms Ward had five previous transgressions to her name, one of which was for violent disorder in 2018.

Ms Mimnagh contended however, the matter was heard at Circuit Court level and consequently struck out.

The court also heard direct evidence from Detective Garda Sean Galvin.

Like Detective Garda Geraghty, he said he observed Ms Ward sitting in the front passenger seat of the car and said it was his belief the second car was in the throws of handing over a delivery from a takeaway in Longford town.

He said soon after gardaí arrived on the scene, other members of the Stokes family, including her husband Kevin Stokes Jnr who pulled up in another car where events took a more hostile turn.

He rejected claims made by Ms Mimnagh of how Mr Stokes could not have been in a position to either use or take ownership of the said hatchet at the time after he had recently been the victim of a serious assault in a car park at the rear of Longford courthouse.

“Other members of the Stokes family arrived at the scene with Kevin Stokes Jnr,” said Detective Garda Galvin.

“He was confrontational enough and not in any way incapacitated at the time.”

Ms Ward took to the stand to reveal how she had bought the hatchet for less than €10 from Jimmy’s Superstore in Athlone earlier that day.

“I went to do shopping in Athlone, I went home and put away my groceries,” she said.

“I went down to collect my food and I genuinely forgot to take the hatchet out (of the car).

“On the day, it just slipped my mind.”

In response to questioning about how the hatchet appeared to have been used previously from Inspector Dave Jordan, Ms Ward denied those claims.

As the hatchet was handed into Judge Brennan, Inspector Jordan said: “It’s not a new hatchet, it’s not one that’s been bought off a shelf.”

Judge Brennan, in delivering his verdict, said it “seemed odd” as to how the hatchet had been found in the footwell of the car, adding Ms Ward’s evidence to the court was simply not credible.

“There is also no receipt (presented in court) here today,” he said.

“One of the first things you would do to rebutt State’s case would be to go to Jimmy’s and get a receipt.”

Judge Brennan also noted how it was his belief, in taking closer inspection of the hatchet, that it had been used previously.

He remanded Ms Ward on bail to a sitting of Longford District Court yesterday (Tuesday).

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