Members of two families who were involved in a ruckus in the lobby and steps of Castlebar Courthouse were back in court on Wednesday where four men faced section six public order charges.
Garda John Cahalin told the court that on January 21 this year around 12 noon he observed two families, the Sweeneys and the Maughans, in the vicinity of the courthouse. The garda heard a commotion behind him and witnessed Owen Maughan, 19 Oak View, Turlough Road, Castlebar, push Eddie Sweeney, Ground Floor Apartment, Flannery’s Apartments, Bridge Street, Ballinrobe, with two hands, and observed shouting and abuse between the two men and their families. According to the garda there were about 12 to 14 people involved in the ruckus. Garda Cahalin separated the families and sought assistance from other gardaí who waited in the lobby to keep the peace.
After the Sweeneys left the court they shouted abuse at the Maughans who were following and the garda directed that both parties leave in different directions.
Sweeney, in his statement, said that Maughan headbutted him and told him that he would kill him. Maughan said that Sweeney told him that he would cut his throat with a Stanley knife and slash his ears. Garda Cahalin said that he did not hear any of these comments from either party.
Garda Michael Toland, who was on duty in the Garda station that day, received a complaint from Paddy Sweeney, Flat 2, Flannery’s Apartments, Bridge Street, Ballinrobe, that there had been a verbal altercation outside on the steps where he was threatened by John Maughan, 20 The Willows, Springfield, Castlebar. Sweeney claimed that Maughan told him that he would kill him when he got him in a quiet place. Maughan, in his statement, said Sweeney told him that he would slash him up.
Garda Toland viewed CCTV footage from the courthouse. The garda said that it was clear that two groups were squaring up with to each other in the lobby but he did not see anything happen between Eddie Sweeney and Owen Maughan on CCTV.
CCTV from the steps of the courthouse was also viewed which showed John Maughan and Paddy Sweeney have words with one another but there was no audio on the footage.
Judge Mary Devins dismissed the case due to insufficient evidence from the lack of clear independent evidence, the lack of CCTV evidence, and that only four out of 14 people were charged.