Judge Seamus Hughes
A Longford man who threatened to kill another man after grabbing him around the neck, leaving him “seeing stars” in the process has been given a four month suspended prison term by Judge Seamus Hughes.
William Maughan, 9 Dolmen Court, Aughnacliffe, Longford pleaded guilty at last week’s sitting of Longford District Court to assaulting Pat Healy on August 12 2018 contrary to Section 2 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997. Mr Maughan, who stood beside his solicitor with the aid of a walking stick, also handed in €500 by way of compensation to the court following the incident at Cloonart North, Bornacoola.
Mr Healy said he had been in the area on the day with another man to move cattle. He said after walking back towards the road, he spotted the defendant’s van parked at the side of the road despite not initially knowing who owned the vehicle.
“All of a sudden he (Mr Maughan) grabbed me by the throat,” adding he suddenly began “seeing stars” as a result.
“He said he was going to kill me if he saw me on that property again.”
Judge Hughes asked Mr Healy what he did to try and stop Mr Maughan from continuing to choke him.
“I said nothing back,” said Mr Healy.
“I wasn’t able to talk. He let me go within ten to 15 seconds.”
Mr Healy, who conceded to being somewhat nervous as it was his first time inside a courtroom, told of how the incident had taken its toll on him.
“I was very dizzy after it,” he said.
“I don’t remember much and then he let me go.”
Mr Healy said moments later two gardaí came across the scene which resulted in some semblance of order being returned.
“I walked on and I remember two guards coming towards me. Then I went on walking and I heard this man (Mr Maughan) shouting again and roaring that I was trespassing.
“The guards took him away after that.”
Pressed as to how he was feeling now and whether the offer of €500 was acceptable, Mr Healy replied simply: “Alright.
“I am not used to courts. It’s my first time in it.”
Judge Hughes empathised with Mr Healy, saying if he was not satisfied with what was being tabled there were other avenues still open to him.
“You will be able to go the Civil Court on another occasion when you might be looking for €20,000 but unfortunately I can’t give you anything like that,” Judge Hughes told him.
He was similarly asked if he had been forced to undergo any medical treatment in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
“I was on tablets and that for a week and there was swelling on my neck but I didn’t go back near a doctor since,” said Mr Healy.
The judge was also told by the victim he “doesn’t like going back” to the scene more than a year on. The court heard the episode had stemmed from a property dispute and contrasting claims made over a right of way which is due to return before the Circuit Civil Court later this month.
Investigating officer, Garda Karl Foley intimated the issue had gone as far as the High Court with Mr Maughan having since complied with an order which had been made and removed his van from the property.
Judge Hughes said the fraught nature and serious background to the saga had left him with a difficult decision to make.
“Do I send you to prison today or issue a suspended sentence subject to conditions?” Judge Hughes asked.
As it turned out, he opted for the latter alternative and told Mr Maughan he was walking on thin ground if he returned to the property during the course of his suspended prison sentence.
“If he breaks these (conditions) under any circumstances, the matter will be brought back to me and he will serve a prison sentence,” remarked the judge.
He drew a line under the affair by sentencing Mr Maughan to four months in prison, suspending its duration for a period of three years. He also imposed a €500 fine, allowing Mr Maughan three months to pay.