THE case against three men who thrashed a Chinese restaurant in Schull has been adjourned to allow them time to come up with adequate compensation.
Each of the accused declined to be legally represented when the case was called at Bantry District Court, but Insp Brian Murphy acknowledged that they had all pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity; had co-operated with the gardaí; and had offered €650 straight compensation to pay for the damage they caused to fixtures, fittings and windows in the restaurant, as well as damage to a neighbour’s door.
The first of the three defendants, John Delaney of the Halting Site at Reenrour West, Bantry, was charged with assaulting Cai Shengxian at Auspicious House at East End, Schull, at around 1.30am on Sunday, September 17th last contrary to Section 2 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.
A co-accused, Michael Delaney of 12 Scart Road, Bantry, was charged with engaging in threatening or abusive words or behaviour at the restaurant and with causing criminal damage to six single-glazed windows in the restaurant, as well as the neighbour’s door.
The third defendant, Brendan McDonagh of 31, McCauley Drive, Birr, in Co Offaly, was charged with a Section 6 offence of engaging in threatening or abusive words or behaviour and with causing criminal damage to a partition wall in the restaurant.
Gda Jonathan McCarthy, giving evidence in the case, explained that the family had been mourning the loss of a child and that things kicked off when the owner of the restaurant flicked off the lights – to indicate closing time – while the family were still eating.
He confirmed that this was around 1.30am. He said that the defendants became abusive to the staff and threw items at them from outside the counter, and that John Delaney assaulted Cai Shengxian by bursting his lip.
The guard said: ‘The rest of the family tried to calm down the situation, but Michael and John went back in and it went on for a couple of minutes more.’
He said a member of staff then came out of a back kitchen with a big butcher’s knife and on seeing this, the defendants backed off.
‘It was a serious situation,’ said Garda McCarthy. But even after they all left the premises things ‘remained very violent.’
He said Michael Delaney punched out six of the single-glazed windows with his fist, causing €500 worth of damage, and then went to a nearby property and broke the door, causing €150 worth of damage.
To compound the situation, the garda told the court, Cai Shengxian’s wife was pregnant at the time and was watching all of this on CCTV upstairs.
After considering the evidence, Judge Mary Dorgan noted: ‘These charges arise and come before the court at the time of the tragic death of a small child. I was in Bantry the day of the funeral and everyone I met was affected by the sadness of what had happened. I have already sympathised with the defendants – one of whom told me he was the grandfather and one was the baby’s dad.
‘I am aware of the sensitivities of this case and acknowledge that the defendants pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and paid €150 and €500 compensation for the damage they caused.
‘However, it has been outlined to me that a man who was doing his day’s work was injured and had to drive from Bantry to Cork for medical treatment and also that his pregnant partner was upset watching what was unfolding on CCTV, which must have been difficult for her.
‘The people who had their PVC door broken down must also have been very fearful on the night.
‘What happened must have been frightening and difficult for all concerned and would normally carry a custodial sentence.
‘The man who was injured needs to be compensated,’ said the judge, who adjourned the case to the Thursday, November 23rd sitting of Bantry District Court to give the defendants time to come up with ‘a realistic proposal for compensation.’
She said the figure she had in mind was €2,500 given the seriousness of the assault.