The two remaining co-defendants in a Hallowe’en hammer assault that featured in the national media were charged in the District Court this week (May 28 ) and released on bail.
Martin Fitzsimons (30 ), and John Ward (36 ), both of no fixed abode, were charged with their part in a street brawl in Willow Park, Athlone on the night of October 31 during which James ‘Smiley’ O’Reilly was left in a critical condition after being hit in the head with a claw hammer.
Outlining the State’s evidence against Ward, Inspector Nicholas Farrell told the court that on the night in question the defendant “produced an article in the course of a row”.
“Say what it is. An article could be something in a newspaper. This was a slash hook,” said Judge Seamus Hughes, indicating the charge sheet.
A third co-defendant - Joe Crampton (22 ) of Castlepark estate, Ballybane, Galway - who is accused of the actual assault on O’Reilly, was sent for trial last month in Mullingar Circuit Court, sitting in Tullamore, on July 16.
At a previous appearance of Crampton’s in December when details of the assault were first made public, Judge Hughes noted: “So vicious was this assault that I heard about it on national radio. This man’s life was in danger”.
Both Ward and Fitzsimons applied for, and were given bail, although under the solitary condition that neither “make any contact with prosecution witnesses”.
Both were coincidentally remanded to appear back at the District Court on July 16 for their books of evidence.
Both solicitors Niamh McLynn and Dara Hayden applied for legal aid for their clients, however it was Ward’s application that caught the judge’s eye.
“Is this true? He’s in receipt of €540 a week in social welfare?” asked Judge Hughes.
“Me and the wife have five or six kids,” said Ward.