A Westmeath couple have admitted assaulting a man but deny it was part of an ongoing feud between the Joyce and Myers families.
At Tullamore District Court John and AnnMarie Joyce of 14 Clibborne Way, Moate pleaded guilty to violent disorder, criminal damage, and assault on John Myers at Clara Market, Offaly on September 26 last.
John Joyce (36 ) said his 34-year-old wife had found out a member of the victim’s family had been passing drugs to their 14-year-old son to pass to Mrs Joyce’s sister, a recovering heroin addict.
During their usual visit to the market on a Sunday morning, Mrs Joyce got upset and Joyce joined her and some other women in attacking the victim in his van where he sustained leg injuries.
He said he picked up an unnamed weapon from the ground and used it to smash John Myers’ van, causing more than €6,000 damage.
The father of four said he lost his head and was wholeheartedly sorry for what happened. He wanted to apologise from the bottom of his heart to the victim, the gardaí and the court, he said.
The incident had torn apart his family’s life and turned it upside down, he said and damaged his reputation as a respected boxing coach.
“I disgraced myself,” he said, adding that “if I ever got a chance, I’d never in my wildest dreams do it in my life again.”
He said there was no excuse for his behaviour, that it was wrong and he accepted that.
Under cross-examination by Inspector Kieran Keyes he vigorously denied that the incident was part of a feud between the Myers and Joyce families.
He said he’d left Mullingar ten years ago to get away from feuding but accepted that there is an ongoing feud between his brother’s family and the Myers in Mullingar.
Judge Catherine Staines said she was impressed with Mr Joyce’s plea and accepted that he’d left the area to avoid the family dispute.
However she expressed “grave concern that the feud is still ongoing”.
She adjourned the case to May to allow payment of at least €1,000 compensation for damage to the victim’s van and for a community service report, indicating that Mr and Mrs Joyce will complete 150 hours in lieu of a three month sentence if suitable.
“It may be that you’ll have to sell a van,” she said, indicating that she is anxious to know if a number of other people alleged to have been involved in the incident, will be sharing in paying for the damage.
“He will have to be compensated,” she added.