A man who claimed he hadn’t been carrying a hatchet during a family feud has had the case against him dismissed because there was no independent witness in court.
“Without a third party witness with no axe to grind - pardon the pun - I have to dismiss,” said the judge ruling in the case of Thomas Dinnegan.
However Dinnegan, who was living at 143 Raithín at the time of the row, pleaded guilty to threatening behaviour and for that offence was given two weeks to pay €1,000 to a local charity to be nominated by the prosecuting garda, Sergeant Kevin Mulvey.
“If I said put him in handcuffs and take him to the Midlands Prison, a grand would be found in 20 seconds,” observed the judge.
Dinnegan said he was not in a van that pulled up outside the family home of Patrick Nevin at 23 Grange Lawns on May 10 last year.
He said he did not jump out and throw a hatchet or axe at the house which was later badly damaged.
More than 30 people have already been convicted for their part in the incident which lasted for hours.
However his father Paddy, whom he claimed was driving the white van, did not give evidence. Fascinating evidence was given in court by Bernard Ward, Mary Patricia Ward, Patrick Nevin, and Dinnegan himself about the incident which happened after one of Dinnegan’s nieces was allegedly assaulted.
The Wards and Patrick Nevin described what they had seen following that, where Willie Donoghue was knocked out by Bernard Ward when he came to the Nevin house to complain about his daughter being assaulted.
They described how they revived him, offering him a cigarette and a drink of water, as they saw a white van pull up and a man they claimed to be Tommy Dinnegan get out and approach them with a short-handled axe.
When they realised he was the only person coming from the van, they gave chase, but had to run when they saw up to 10 members of the Dinnegan family making their way towards the house.
The men described how they damaged the van; Mr Ward had a pick handle which was conveniently located because “we were expecting trouble after what just happened [Donoghue assault] and weren’t we right?”
Thirty-nine-year-old Dinnegan insisted he had not approached the house with an axe to intimidate or cause injury but had been one of the dozen or so Dinnegans who ran towards the house after the van incident.
While gardaí were present at Grange for most of the day, they did not see the attack on the Nevin house or what led up to it.
“While the guards are 2:1 against you, I have to say, regarding the nature of the incident and the evidence and the emotions on both sides, it’s safest to look for independent evidence,” said the judge.
Without it, he dismissed the weapons charge.