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Bantry man assaulted brother following 'lunacy' behaviour over land dispute

February 16th, 2024 1:08 PM

By Southern Star Team

Bantry man assaulted brother following 'lunacy' behaviour over land dispute Image

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JUDGE James McNulty described as ‘lunacy’ the behaviour of two brothers – one of whom was charged with assault – following a dispute over land and a well.

Seamus O’Sullivan of Droumsullivan, Bantry, was charged with assaulting his brother Eugene O’Sullivan, in the early hours of August 16th 2022.

In evidence for the State at Bantry District Court, Eugene O’Sullivan said Seamus was in an agitated state when he called to the home of his mother.

Eugene said they had been talking about different things when Seamus pounced on the chair, on which he had been lying, and almost choked him to death. He claimed Seamus punched him into the ribs a good few times, and when he stood up he felt like passing out.

Eugene said he wanted to call for assistance but his mobile was flat and his mother’s landline wasn’t working.

Eugene said he went across the yard and knocked on the door of Mary O’Sullivan, his brother’s former partner, and asked her to phone the gardaí.

‘She refused,’ said Eugene, who alleged his brother came at him, once again, from behind and laid into his ribs, which caused him to fall to the ground. The court was told Mary contacted her daughter Shauna, who is a nurse, and Shauna rang for an ambulance and the police.

Eugene gave evidence that the ambulance personnel told him there was nothing wrong with him, and to stand up.

In cross-examination by Flor Murphy, solicitor for the brother, Eugene admitted he had been assisted by the gardaí and the ambulance personnel back to his mother’s house.

However, Eugene described this as being ‘manhandled’. Mr Murphy asked the witness if he had tried to push past Mary at her own front door, but Eugene denied that, saying: ‘I had to go for help. I had no choice but to go to her house and seek help.’

The solicitor put it to him that the entire dispute was over water, a well, and a strip of land. Eugene admitted he sold his niece Shauna and her husband Tyler a site, but he claimed they sunk a well in the wrong place and it had completely depleted his own supply.

The solicitor submitted that Seamus checked the well and found it full, but Eugene said he couldn’t have done that because the door to the well is locked. Later, in evidence in his own defence, Seamus said he didn’t break the lock. He said he took the door off, temporarily, by the hinges and the well – despite ‘10 roasting weeks’ – was full of water.

Mr Murphy put it to Eugene that he was trying to get more money out of the couple. Eugene denied this saying he had never asked for an extra cent, but he had asked them for ground ‘they took wrongfully’.

On more than one occasion, Insp Emmet Daly reminded the solicitor, and the court, that Eugene O’Sullivan was not a defendant in the case. He was there as a witness for the State.

Mr Murphy put it to the witness that his brother never laid a hand on him. But Eugene said he had the marks on his neck, a medical report, and photographs taken by the gardaí, to prove it. He also said that he spent the next two days on the couch ‘falling in and out of consciousness’.

Mr Murphy asked Eugene if he had been obstructive with the ambulance crew and the gardaí.

‘They asked me to get up,’ Eugene replied. ‘I asked if they could bring me a stretcher and I said I would roll onto that.’

When he called to her door, Mary O’Sullivan said Eugene had behaved like ‘a lunatic’ shouting about a strip of land and the well.

She said her ex, Seamus, arrived and told Eugene: ‘F**k off, and leave Mary alone.’ She said Seamus shouldered Eugene away from the door and, after falling onto a chair that had rotted in the outdoors, it gave way under him.

‘We have no peace in the yard with Eugene,’ Mary O’Sullivan said in reference to the fact that they all live close to each other.

Having gone indoors, she said she could hear Eugene roaring that his ribs were broken. She said she went out to him and he said he wanted an ambulance.

‘I did say there is nothing wrong with you,’ said Mary O’Sullivan, who then called Shauna, a nurse, who rang both the ambulance and the gardaí.

‘When they arrived, 15 minutes later, they went to help him but he gave them abuse,’ said Mary. ‘They were offering him an injection for the pain but he wouldn’t take it.’

She said she put a blanket over him because the ambulance crew were ‘a good hour’ trying to get him off the ground and co-operative. Gda Louise McLoughlin gave evidence that they arrived at 1.55am and found two paramedics trying to give Eugene assistance.

‘He was refusing medical attention and he was quite abusive to us,’ she stated in her evidence.

In evidence in his own defence, Seamus O’Sullivan said he and two others went to the well and screwed off the hinges and could see that Eugene’s well was full of water.

He said he approached Eugene and asked him not to harass Shauna and Tyler. ‘When I told him we had got into the well, he lost the head,’ said the defendant.

Seamus said he told Eugene he would not give him a strip of land until Shauna and Tyler got a written apology and then he left his mother’s house. He said it was only when he was walking back up the yard that he saw Eugene hurling abuse at Mary.

‘I told him to f**k off and shouldered him. He fell over the chair and it disintegrated under him,’ said Seamus.

The defendant also denied choking or punching Eugene when he was in the kitchen of his mother’s house.

In summing up, Judge James McNulty said the event in the kitchen probably unfolded as outlined by Eugene O’Sullivan, and there was definitely an assault at the doorway. And he convicted Seamus of assaulting his brother.

Insp Daly told the court that the accused has seven previous convictions, including one for assault, and some for minor road traffic matters.

Flor Murphy described the entire situation as ‘a sorry mess with three generations living around the same yard and lots of difficulty getting on with each other.’

‘I hope madness skips a generation, because there is a bit of madness between the two brothers,’ Judge McNulty stated.

‘Seamus has form for misbehaving and while it might be my first time meeting Eugene, he is not far behind him. His behaviour was appalling on the night,’ said the judge.

Judge McNulty said he would try to come up with a humane solution and might deal with the assault charge on a fine-only basis.

He adjourned the case to the February 22nd sitting to allow Seamus time to come up with €240 for the State, to cover the cost of the medical report, as well as €1,000 for a possible fine.

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