A Castlebar man was acquitted of assaulting his first cousin at Castlebar District Court this week. Charlie McDonagh of 37 Meadow Park, Castlebar, was tried for assaulting his first cousin Bernie McDonagh on July 20 2010 in Cois Abhainn, Castlebar.
The court heard evidence from both men and Kathleen McDonagh, the mother of Bernie McDonagh, and from Margaret McDonagh, the wife of Charlie McDonagh. In their evidence both parties accused the other of starting the incident which occurred outside the house of an uncle of the two men. Bernie McDonagh had to receive hospital treatment to a cut in his head after he was hit by Charlie McDonagh with a wheel brace in a fight between the men which broke out as a result of an inter family feud over an incident involving a sister of Charlie McDonagh and Bernie McDonagh.
In his evidence to the court Bernie McDonagh told the court that he was driving back into the estate towards his mother’s house when Charlie McDonagh was driving out with his wife Margaret McDonagh. He said that Charlie McDonagh stopped his van beside his and a row erupted between the two parties, and that Charlie McDonagh then drove to the top of the estate before turning around and coming back down the estate, pulling up outside the home of Simon McDonagh, the uncle of both men, where Kathleen McDonagh happened to be inside at the time.
According to Bernie McDonagh he had come back up to the house after parking his van at his mother’s house a short distance away when Charlie McDonagh and his wife jumped out of their van. Charlie McDonagh began to assault him with the wheel brace and caused him to get a cut in the back of his head which required 10 staples in the hospital. He also told the court that Margaret McDonagh and his mother Kathleen got into an fight with each other. Bernie McDonagh said that after Charlie McDonagh assaulted him, Charlie McDonagh then went on to damage his mother’s van which was parked on street, causing a lot of damage to it. Bernie McDonagh then told the court than in response to the damage caused to his mother’s van, he broke windows and caused damage to Charlie McDonagh’s van with a rock, before he collapsed on the footpath. The court was shown photographic evidence of the injuries sustained by Bernie McDonagh and of the damage to the van.
In her evidence to the court Kathleen McDonagh told the court that she was in her sister in law’s house and she heard one of the children in the house shouting that Charlie McDonagh was going to kill Bernie McDonagh outside. When she when outside she said she saw Bernie and Charlie arguing over the van and that Margaret McDonagh was banging her chest telling her to fight her. She then told the court that both Charlie and Margaret McDonagh drove off in their van before turning around and coming back to where she was and that both of them jumped out of their van before Charlie went after Bernie with a wheel brace and Margaret and she started fighting.
In his defence Charlie McDonagh told the court that there was an argument between him and Bernie McDonagh outside the house, and the only reason that he came back to the house was because Kathleen McDonagh was calling at him to come back and that he thought she wanted to make peace between them as he never had a problem with Kathleen McDonagh. He said he did get into a fight with Bernie McDonagh and he did have a wheel brace in his hand, but the only reason he did was because Bernie McDonagh came at him with a wheel brace and a block. He also said that it was Bernie McDonagh who first damaged his van before he damaged Kathleen McDonagh’s van after the fight. Margaret McDonagh told the court in her evidence that she did not start fighting with Kathleen McDonagh, it was Kathleen who first started fighting with her and that she received a number of serious scrapes to her face. She said that after the fight, she was trying to move their van when Bernie McDonagh smashed in the front window of it with a rock.
Judge Mary Devins in making her decision said that while there was no doubt that the injuries sustained by Bernie McDonagh was caused by Charlie McDonagh there was a conflict of evidence as to whether he was acting in self defence or that he started it and that she would have to acquit him of the assault charge. She did record a conviction against Charlie McDonagh for the criminal damage to the van belonged to Kathleen McDonagh and she adjourned the case for the issue of compensation.