A man who assaulted a business associate whom he said owed him €77,000 managed to leave court this week (May 14 ) without a conviction, after the judge accepted “there is another side to this”.
David Parke (54 ) an industrial panelling contractor from Glennane, Co Armagh was brought to Athlone District Court on Wednesday to plead guilty to the assault on Timmy Beirne on the campus of Green Farm Foods in Rathowen at lunchtime the day before.
Giving evidence of arrest, charge, and caution as outlined to Parke in Mullingar Garda Station earlier that morning, Garda Susan Keane told the court how he immediately held his hands up, accepted responsibility, and admitted: “I shouldn’t’ve hit that man”.
Garda Keane told Judge Seamus Hughes how she had attended a call to the processed food plant between Mullingar and Longford in response to a report of an altercation between two sub-contractors at lunchtime on Tuesday, May 13.
When she got there she spoke to the injured party, who was already being attended to in the back of an ambulance.
He was then taken to the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar with “some swelling and bruising around the face, a black eye, and some bruised ribs” after being kicked on the ground, but was discharged later that afternoon.
“He kicked him with steel, toe-capped boots?” asked the judge.
“On an industrial site? Health and safety?” enquired the judge.
“He wasn’t there for work, judge. It was an ongoing issue between both in relation to a debt of old,” said Garda Keane.
Parke explained how the injured party had owed him a total of €77,000 from previous dealings, and that he had gone to Beirne’s offices for three weeks “to no effect”.
Parke told the court that this debt caused him to let go 14 staff, and took him three years to discharge the bankruptcy.
Judge Hughes wondered why Parke had not chosen a legal route, and was told: “My solicitor said I hadn’t a leg to stand on”.
“Maybe he was too busy, and didn’t want your business, but you could always have sought a second opinion. If you were told this [no grounds] why then, did you take the law into your own hands? Now he has a claim against you, these injuries might just show a greater manifestation in cold weather,” deadpanned the judge.
After hearing Parke had no previous convictions, save for a minor road traffic offence in Northern Ireland, Judge Hughes made his mind up.
“This prosecution has been properly brought, Inspector, but there is another side to this,” he allowed, before giving Parke the benefit of the Probation Act.