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28 Jun 2022

Man jailed for three years for trying to "gouge" Longford garda's eyes in violent assault

Longford Courthouse.

A man who tried to “gouge” out the eyes of a Garda during an arrest has been sentenced to four years in prison with the final year suspended for a period of five years

A man who tried to “gouge” out the eyes of a Garda during an arrest has been sentenced to four years in prison with the final year suspended for a period of five years, subject to a number of conditions.

Martin Nevin Jnr, with an address at 59 Parkmore, Tuam, Co Galway, appeared before the recent sittings of Longford Circuit Court where Judge Keenan Johnson heard details of an incident between Mr Nevin, a co-accused, Hugh Myers, of 18 Ardleigh Crescent, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, and two members of An Garda Síochána.

Mr Myers had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of assault of a police officer while acting in the course of their duties, and Mr Nevin pleaded guilty to one count of the same offence.

The case was initially heard at District Court level where Judge Seamus Hughes refused jurisdiction and requested that the DPP reconsider directions for summary disposal.

“The more injuries a guard suffers, the more it will be accepted until we’re dealing with a very serious assault,” said Judge Hughes at the time.

The case appeared before Judge Johnson in January of this year and was put back for sentencing to the May sittings of Longford Circuit Court.

On August 10, 2019, Garda Angela Keegan and Garda Shane Carr were on district patrol when they received a call to go to an address in Knockloughlin, Ballinalee, Co Longford, where the Nevin family were living.

The report detailed that Martin Nevin Jr was assaulting his pregnant wife and, when Gardaí arrived at 9.15pm, they observed four females outside in an agitated state and asking them to get Martin Nevin Jr out of the house.

When they entered the house, Martin Nevin Jr and Hugh Myers were sitting on the couch and Gda Keegan told the court that Mr Myers adopted a very aggressive attitude towards her.

The court heard that, when Gardaí requested that Mr Nevin leave the house, he began to leave but his co-accused, Mr Myers, encouraged him not to comply.

The two men, who were intoxicated, became verbally abusive to Gardaí, with Mr Nevin calling Gda Carr “a cancerous, lying bastard” before lunging towards him.

When Gda Keegan attempted to restrain and arrest Mr Nevin, he continued to try and hit Gda Carr and, as a result, the two Gardaí and Mr Nevin fell to the ground in a struggle.

Gda Keegan told the court how she landed on her knees and that Gda Carr was on the ground with Mr Nevin wrestling and struggling while she tried to place handcuffs on the accused.

Mr Nevin attempted to gouge Gda Carr’s eye while Mr Myers and another member of the family joined in and attacked the two Gardaí.

Gda Keegan told the court how she and Gda Carr were being “thrown and dragged around” by the three men, with Mr Myers pushing her and preventing her from freeing herself to assist Gda Carr.

She advised Mr Myers that she would be deploying her pepper sprace, to which she received a torrent of abuse from the women outside who said Mr Nevin had an eye injury which they believed could have been aggravated by the pepper spray.

The pepper spray, however, did not make contact with either of the accused and the back spray from it instead went into Gda Carr’s eye.

The court then heard how Mr Myers approached Gda Keegan with a silver object, which he held up to her and said “so you were going to f*cking pepper spray me, were you? You will f*cking get it for that”.

He continued to threaten Gda Keegan with the silver object and only backed away when Garda reinforcements arrived.

In a victim impact statement furnished to the court, Garda Carr described how he was knocked to the ground, dragged, punched and kicked. He also said he could see Gda Keegan being assaulted and was “extremely worried” about her.

He said the left side of his back was in “excruciating pain” immediately after the assault and he was off duty from August 2019 until January 2020.

He also said the incident affected him mentally and that he now has concerns for safety when he’s going to deal with incidents, often getting overwhelmed thinking about what might occur.

These thoughts result in him feeling guilty for thinking about his own safety when he should be trying to help others, the court heard.

He also feels guilty for not being able to help Gda Keegan who was also off work for a long time as a result.

In his statement, Gda Carr said he wasn’t able to play with his young children for a long time, that he now spends more time in the station than the community and that his back still gives him a lot of trouble, resulting in his career being put on hold.

Gda Keegan received an injury to her eye, bruising to her face and knees and suffered stiffness in her back, arm and hip muscles as well as soft tissue injuries to her upper back and shoulders.

She had difficulty sleeping and was anxious for a time and had to seek medical intervention to deal with these issues, as well as physiotherapy to deal with the persistent pain in her back and shoulders. She also suffered an eye infection, which required medical treatment.

In her victim impact statement, Gda Keegan said she suffered flashbacks and was diagnosed with PTSD.

The assault knocked her confidence for a while and for some time she felt she was to blame for the assaults carried out on herself and Gda Carr.

“This is a totally and utterly unacceptable situation,” said Judge Johnson, “the Gardaí were acting in the course of their duties and performing one of their core functions, which is to help people who are in trouble.

“It is incredible and shocking to think that, in attempting to perform their duties, they should be subjected to such violence, anger, hatred and abuse.

“I often say that, as a society, we are indebted to Gardaí for maintaining law and order. Every day the Gardaí put their lives on the line in order to ensure a safe society for all law-abiding citizens.

“They have to deal with all sorts of frightening and horrific situations such as murders, serious car accidents, assaults, robberies and sexual abuse cases.

“They are at the coalface when it comes to maintaining law and order and, in that context, they deserve our wholehearted support.

“I want to commend Gda Carr and Gda Keegan for the professional way in which they discharged their duties in such an adverse and difficult situation. They have both clearly suffered significant injuries both physical and psychological as a result of the assaults that were perpetrated on them.

“As a society, we are indebted to them for their actions and, on behalf of society, I would like to thank them and wish them both well going forward.”

Mitigating factors taken into consideration included, among others, guilty pleas and expressions of remorse.

“In relation to Martin Nevin Jr, I am satisfied that his offending would have been considerably less had he not been encouraged to disobey and ignore the directions of Gardaí by Mr Myers,” said Judge Johnson.

“However, the fact that Mr Nevin attempted to gouge the eye of Garda Carr does, in the court’s opinion, render his culpability equal to that of Mr Myers.”

He proceeded to sentence Mr Nevin to four years in prison with the final year suspended for a period of five years. Mr Myers will be sentenced at a later date.

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