“The adolescent version of where the broader trouble stems from” is how Kenneth Fogarty SC described the background to the assault on Jason Dinnegan almost three years ago.
He also referred to the conflict between members of the Dinnegan and Nevin families in Mullingar as “carcinogenic”.
Jason Dinnegan is still on medication following the attack which was described by the judge as the “merciless pummelling with a baseball bat of a cornered, outnumbered defenceless victim”.
Sgt Kevin Mulvey said the assault happened at a time of “heightened tensions” in the town as part of what John Hayden, SC for the State described as the “ongoing feud between the Dinnegans and the Nevins”.
The Mullingar sergeant said Patrick Nevin had no previous convictions but had been “greatly influenced by circumstances and other family”.
He agreed with the judge who suggested the 20-year-old, who was 17 at the time of the offence was being “inducted into the feud”.
Sgt Mulvey said there had been “four to five months of relative calm since the turn of the year” but accepted the judge’s suggestion that this was probably because “they are all coming forward for trial”.
In sentencing the three men for the assault, Judge Anthony Kennedy said he could not entertain a suggestion made by Patrick Nevin’s counsel Mr Fogarty, that he delay sentencing “to see how things pan out on the wider estate dispute”.
Whether the trouble in general is over as far as these men were concerned was, he said “a matter for themselves”, but he added that the court would not tolerate “such brazen criminality”.
However he said that “like so many of their like”, the men never appreciated the “softly, softly” approach of the courts.
“All they understand is what they use themselves – brute force.”
He said there was a recognised judicial custom not to send defendants to prison on their first offence but sometimes wondered about the wisdom of this.
While Patrick Nevin had no previous convictions, Declan Golden and James Nevin both have “form” he said, and it might have been wiser to give them “an immediate taste of prison” for earlier offences.
Being bound to the peace for a previous offence “meant nothing” to Declan Golden, he said, pointing out that he had had the chance to go the straight way but spurned it.
He also expressed his surprise that James Nevin had been given “merely community service” for his second conviction for “drug pushing”.