Men damaged stalls and assaulted stall owners during racial attack

Two men from Belmullet appeared at Castlebar District Court this week after they damaged stalls set up for the Belmullet Fair and then attacked the stall owners, while shouting racial slurs at them.

Stall owner Abdul Gaffar told the court that he set up his stalls in Belmullet town the night of August 14 2009 in preparation for the following day’s fair. At around 12.30am the witness said that while standing across the road from the market he observed a small white van drive into one of the stalls. Three men got out and began to damage stalls. The witness alongside two other stall holder friends shouted to the men to stop. With that, the witness said that the men came towards them with steel bars which they pulled from the stalls and began to attack them. The injured party said that he was struck on the head by one of the men and his friend was struck on the arm.

The witness said that the three men were shouting “Paki ba****ds” and were shouting about religion and Muslims.

One of the other stall holders told the court that the men shouted “I’ll kill Paki ba****ds.” This witness said that he was hit on his arm — pictures of the injuries sustained and medical report was furnished to the judge.

Gardaí were called and arrested two men, Thomas Cawley, Tallagh Road, Belmullet, and David Conroy, Attycunnane, Belmullet. Investigations could not establish the identity of the third man.

Garda Thomas Organ said that when he arrived at the scene he saw a white van crashed into the stall and noticed that bars from the stall were pulled down and were lying on the road. The garda also noticed that one of the stall owner’s arms was bleeding and this injured man pointed out Conroy, as the person who injured him and caused damage to the stalls.

When approached by Garda Organ Conroy told the garda to “f**k off”, “that he is not afraid of the gardaí” and he pointed towards the stall holders and said that he “would hammer them”. The garda noticed that there was a strong smell of liquor from the defendant and arrested him under sections four and six of the Public Order Act.

Garda Debbie Kyne, who also arrived at the scene, saw one frame turned out, bars in the street, and another stall holder pointed out Cawley who assaulted him in the head.

When approached by the garda Cawley asked: “Was I going to believe him?”. Garda Kyne noticed that the defendant was intoxicated and she arrested him under the Public Order Act. When charged Cawley said that he did not assault anyone.

Cawley told the court that when he was giving a lift home to Conroy a car came at them and he drove into the stall by accident. The defendant said that when he got out of the van he heard a number of men saying that they wanted money for the damage caused, and then, “with that your honour I got a belt to the nose”. The defendant has no recollection of what happened next until he was approached by gardaí.

Conroy told the court that he was hit in the back of the head after he got out of the van, but he did not make a complaint to gardaí.

Judge David Anderson said that both accused “are devoid of credibility” and was satisfied that “one or the other or both” committed section two assaults.

Cawley (34 ) has previous convictions and is currently on remand in Castlerea before he is sentenced in the circuit court in January for a section three assault. Conroy (22 ) also has previous convictions.

The judge remanded both to Harristown Court until today (Friday ). Cawley will be before Judge Anderson again for sentencing following his circuit court appearance and a probation report will be prepared for Conroy.


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