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25 May 2022

Longford siblings sentenced for 'vicious and savage' feud-related stabbing

Longford siblings sentenced for 'vicious and savage' feud-related stabbing

Judge Keenan Johnson sentenced Kevin Stokes Jnr (pictured being led into court) to three years and four months in prison for assault

A brother and sister have been sentenced for their part in a "vicious and savage" feud related knife attack on another man which left the victim with "life-threatening and disfiguring" injuries.

Daniel Lawrence sustained multiple stab wounds to his head, stomach, back and arm following the attack outside Aldi,  Longford Retail Park, Townspark, Athlone Road, Longford on April 1, 2019.

A sitting of Longford Circuit Criminal Court today (Wednesday, February 2) heard the injuries inflicted on the 31-year-old Longford man were so severe that when gardaí arrived at the scene they found a tag of skin, the size of a palm print, hanging off the victim's head.

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Kevin Stokes Jnr (29) and Chantelle Stokes (20), both of Lisnanagh, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, pleaded guilty to Section 3 assault causing harm as a result of the incident.

The court was told the incident had stemmed from "a history of antagonism" over Mr Lawrence's ongoing relationship with Kate Stokes, a sister of both of the accused.

On the day of the attack, Mr Lawrence and Ms Stokes had been about to enter Aldi in Longford town when the pair spotted the defendants' mother Margaret Stokes and Chantel Stokes walking towards them.

It was at that stage, it was revealed Margaret Stokes accused Kate Stokes of calling her father names before slapping her across the face.

In an attempt to diffuse the situation, the court heard Daniel Lawrence proceeded to remonstrate with Mrs Stokes Snr, seconds before Chantel Stokes suddenly produced a can of antiperspirant, spraying him in the face in the process.

Disorientated and temporarily blinded, Kevin Stokes Jnr ran across a car park and attacked Mr Lawrence with a knife, inflicting serious injuries to the victim’s head and stomach areas.

The court was informed a ‘Newton hearing’ had been held amid claims from Kevin Stokes Jnr that Daniel Lawrence had, in fact, been armed with a knife on that day and not him.

Judge Keenan Johnson said the court was “absolutely satisfied” that neither Kate Stokes or Daniel Lawrence had any weapons with them on the day and it was they who had been subjected to an unprovoked attack.

The court was further satisfied, he added that Kevin Stokes Jnr had brought the knife to the scene.

During the ensuing garda investigation, Kevin Stokes Jnr denied any involvement or knowledge of the assault.

Following discussions with her parents his sister, who was aged 17 at the time, made a voluntary statement where she took responsibility for the knife attack with her mother making a subsequent statement to corroborate those claims.

Judge Johnson said it was abundantly clear both statements were a “tissue of lies” and were made in an effort to minimise the sanctions any follow up court proceedings could level against a 17-year-old with no prior convictions.

“The court finds it astonishing that any parent would allow their child to accept responsibility for such a serious offence, when they had not perpetrated it,” he said.

“The actions of Chantel Stokes’ parents did a grave disservice to their daughter and are shameful.

“No caring or loving parent would allow their child to make a statement that they patently knew to be false to the Gardaí.”

It was revealed Kevin Stokes Jnr fled to Northern Ireland before a book of evidence could be served on him.

While there, he was arrested by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and bailed for an unrelated matter before returning south to surrender himself to gardaí on foot of an outstanding bench warrant.

In custody since August 26, it emerged the father of two was on bail at the time of the knife attack on Mr Lawrence after receiving a two year sentence, suspended for five years concerning a separate section 3 assault in 2016.

In delivering his ruling, Judge Johnson said the court was obligated to send out a clear and unequivocal message in response to the proliferation of feud related violence Longford and its citizens had been forced to endure in recent times.

“One can only imagine the horror of the scene and the level of distress caused not only to the victim and his partner, but also to the many innocent bystanders who were going about their lawful business,” he said.

“The viciousness and intensity of this feud has no place in civilised society and the courts will not tolerate or continence the continuation of such feuds.”

He sentenced Kevin Stokes Jnr to three years and four months in prison for assault.

He also activated 12 months of a suspended two year prison term imposed on the accused in 2017 with that sentence to run consecutively to the assault prison term.

A sentence of 240 hours community service was, meanwhile, handed down to Chantel Stokes for violent disorder alongside a 12 month sentence, suspended for three years for a section 3 assault charge.

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