Judge finds evidence of husband and wife ‘self serving and in no way believable’

Judge Mary Devins adjourned sentencing until April 13, 2010 on a Ballina man who she found guilty of assaulting another man with a spade as he tried to dig the foundations out for a new house.

Judge Devins had previously heard the evidence in the case where the court was told that on Saturday February 16 2008 Benny Holmes — who owns land next to Liam Walsh, Culleens, Killala Road, Ballina — began digging a foundation at 8am for a wall. The court had been told that once the digging commenced Walsh came out of his house and shouted at Holmes, before he began throwing blocks at him, which were handed to him by his wife, Mary Walsh.

Holmes continued digging, however Walsh then started hitting Holmes’ upper body with a spade and even at times went to hit Holmes’ head. Holmes, who had his back to Walsh, continued his work, even though he felt the pain of the spade, as there had been numerous attempts to stop him from work on his property before. Holmes then called the gardaí. A worker who was with Holmes at the time saw him being hit, as did Finola Holmes.

According to Holmes, Walsh, who was standing on a bank above the trench, lost his balance and fell into the trench where he received cuts and bruising to his face.

Walsh claimed that his neighbour jumped up and dragged him by the neck into the trench where Holmes then knocked him face down to the ground and said, “There is your f***ing ground.”

Mrs Holmes and Brian Munnelly, who was working at the property, said that they saw Walsh fall into the trench and then he was helped up by Holmes. Holmes said that he lifted Walsh up by the jacket and told him to “get the f**k out” of his property. Walsh told the court that he did not throw any blocks at Holmes and that he had a shovel in his hand for balance, but did not swing it, and claimed that Holmes jumped up and smashed his face into the ground. Mrs Walsh said that she saw Holmes get a hold of her husband and drag him into the trench and also called the gardaí.

Judge Devins told the court this week that she found the whole incident unedifying and that she found the evidence of Walsh and his wife Mary, “to be less than convincing. I find it self-serving and in no way believable. I have heard the evidence of Mr Holmes and believe that as a result of the guerrilla warfare perpetrated by Mr Walsh Mr Holmes has given up any hope of building a house there.” She also commented that to attack somebody in a trench with a spade could have caused serious harm and permanent damage.

Judge Devins adjourned sentencing until April 13, with liberty to re-enter at 24 hours’ notice, and attached a number of conditions including that Walsh have no contact with Benny Holmes or any member of his family, not interfere with his lands in any way, and to keep the peace.

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