TWO Beara brothers who had been directed at Bantry District Court to enter into a bond to keep the peace for two years appealed the decision to the circuit court.
‘The State accepts that they have amended their ways,’ Jerry Healy, the acting State solicitor, stated moments before Judge Helen Boyle indicated that she would allow the appeal.
The district court case was originally heard on July 14th 2022 but Judge James McNulty adjourned the imposition of penalty – in respect of the assault charges – to the most recent sitting.
As a result, the conclusion of the case in the district court came after the circuit court appeal.
At the latest sitting, Judge McNulty convicted the brothers of assaulting each other at an address in Ardgroom on May 26th 2020.
Before he did so, the judge indicated his surprise that a bond to keep the peace could be appealed to the circuit court.
Mr Hennessy told them that the bonds had been successfully appealed and he also indicated that any subsequent conviction for assault would be appealed also.
Judge McNulty convicted Florence Harrington of Ardgroom, Beara, of assaulting Finbarr Harrington and fined him €1,000.
Similarly, he convicted Finbarr Harrington of Canfie Road, Ardgroom, of assaulting Florence Harrington but fined him €1,500 for the offence.
At the original hearing, Judge McNulty said the men – both retired teachers in their mid-60s – ought to be ‘thoroughly ashamed of themselves’. They have brought shame and disgrace on themselves and their families, he stated.
In July, retired Gda Martin Hegarty gave evidence that the case related to the estate of their late father and said the title to the property is disputed.
Ray Hennessy, solicitor for Barry Harrington, had indicated that his client is the executor of his father’s estate, which is being challenged by his mother.
Meanwhile, Nancy O’Driscoll, solicitor for Florence Harrington, had pointed out that her client is managing the property on behalf of his sister. She said he has no interest in the will, is not a beneficiary, and is not seeking to be a beneficiary.
Florence Harrington gave evidence that Barry climbed over the gate at about 4pm that afternoon and ‘hit me with his shoulder.’ He denied the charge of assault brought against him.
As he was driving past, Barry Harrington said he saw the gate and door to the shed open so he called in because he had some tools stored there.
He claimed his brother slammed the gate against him and, when he climbed over it, his brother punched him into the chest.
While in the building, he alleged that Florence came in and ‘horsed him around the place’. He denied threatening or assaulting anyone.
The retired garda and Gda Dave Fenton were on the scene that day because there had been a report of a broken window. No reports of assaults were made on May 26th and the gardaí informed both men that their dispute was ‘a civil matter.’
Martin Hegarty recalled that ‘both were very aggressive towards each other but not to the gardaí.’
‘It wasn’t nice,’ he said, ‘to hear the exchanges between two brothers. Both are in their 60s, both professional men, and their behaviour left a lot to be desired.’
The issue became a criminal matter when, on July 13th 2020, Barry Harrington called to the garda station and made a statement of complaint regarding the incident.
Martin Hegarty said Florence was invited to make a response and in October he made counter allegations against his brother.
In mitigation, both solicitors submitted that their clients have no previous convictions.
‘These sons of the land – who have so much by way of opportunities in life – have behaved so badly it is inexcusable,’ Judge McNulty had said when summing up the case.
Initially, he adjourned the case for two weeks to give both parties an opportunity to sign bonds in the sum of €20,000 to keep the peace – 10% of which was to be paid in cash.
He gave Barry Harrington an opportunity to come to court with a bank draft made payable to Concern in the sum of €3,000, while Florence was asked to bring a bank draft made payable to Trocaire in the sum of €2,000 – the difference being, said the judge, that ‘Barry was the trespasser and the aggressor.’
But both solicitors declined the offer, claiming neither believed they were guilty of assault.
Judge McNulty proceeded to bind both parties to the peace in the sum of €20,000, 10% of which was to be deposited in court but that order was successfully appealed.
And, at the conclusion of the most recent court hearing, the solicitors asked for recognisances in relation to the assault convictions to be fixed for appeal.