THREE men who attacked a car while a religious ceremony was underway at a graveyard near Ennis have been ordered to pay compensation to the victim.
Mother of two Kathleen Maughan was visiting her husband’s grave when her Ford Focus car was damaged in a violent incident at Drumcliffe cemetery, Ennis District Court heard on Thursday.
Ms Maughan told the court she saw three men armed with slash hooks and hatchets alight from vehicles and attack her car on March 24, 2013.
“They came toward me and I got afraid. I went back to the graveyard”, she said. Ms Maughan, who is from Ennis but now lives in Cork, was one of a group of 20 people attending a blessing of the graves ceremony. Ms Maughan said she felt “terrified” and “frightened”.
“I’m terrified to come to Ennis. I’m terrified to bring my children to see their father’s grave”, she added.
The court heard there was a feud between two traveler families in Clare at the time. Ms Maughan said she had nothing to do with the dispute, which involved members of her extended family.
“I wasn’t fighting with them at all. I was terrified”, she explained. The court heard €7000 worth of damage was caused to Ms Maughan’s car.
Michael Doherty (52), with an address at 2 St Michael’s Park, Ballymaley, Ennis; James Galbraith (45), with an address at Lissaniska, Ennis and Bettystown, Meath and Patrick Doherty (34), with an address at Woodhaven, Kilrush Road, Ennis were charged with criminal damage arising out of the incident. They denied the charge.
Under cross examination from solicitor for Mr Galbraith, John Casey, Ms Maughan said, “I’m not looking to get paid for my car. I’m not looking for money. I’m looking for justice.” The hearing was interrupted for a brief period when a 19- year-old girl shouted abuse at Ms Maughan, prompting Judge William Earley to issue a warning about behaviour in the court.
Garda Noelle Bergin of Ennis Garda Station attended the scene of the attack on the day. She told the court extensive damage had been caused to the car. Under cross-examination from solicitor for the Doherty’s, Daragh Hassett, Garda Bergin said there were no independent witnesses to the attack.
You can send me to jail, Judge. I won’t give her 10 cents. You can put me in jail now
Mr Hassett told the court younger people may have been responsible for the incident but his clients were not.
Mr Casey said it would be unsafe to convict his client on the evidence of just one witness. Judge William Earley said, “I believe the evidence of Ms Maughan. I believe she is telling the truth, therefore it must follow that I find them guilty as charged.”
Judge Earley said it seemed to be the case that Ms Maughan was a “victim of one of these wretched family feuds that are all too common in the traveler community”.
Adjourning the case to January 22, Judge Earley ordered all three accused to pay €7000 compensation to the victim. He said if the money was paid he would recommend a six month suspended sentence for each accused. Recognizances were fixed in the event of an appeal. The decision led to an angry response from Mr Galbraith who said he would not pay the money.
“You can send me to jail, Judge. I won’t give her 10 cents. You can put me in jail now,” he said.
“She’s only put fuel in the fire. The feud’s only starting now”, he added.
Mr Galbraith’s comments came as a flurry of insults and abuse were fired at Ms Maughan from people sitting in the gallery.
Judge Earley initially imposed an immediate six month sentence on Mr Galbraith but vacated that order after Mr Casey apologized for his client’s behaviour.