A SCHULL couple who have repeatedly challenged the authority of the gardaí, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the local district courts – as well as being deeply scathing of the legal representatives practising in West Cork – are to appeal the convictions that were imposed at the October 25th sitting of Bantry District Court.
When the couple, Rosarie O’Donoghue and Daniel Hegarty of Ardmanagh, Schull, appeared before Judge James McNulty at Bantry District Court recently, they said they would not participate in the proceedings and, regardless of the outcome, would be appealing the decision all the way to the ‘Court of Appeal’ where they hoped they would get ‘a fair trial.’
Rosarie O’Donoghue quoted several High Court judges, saying they had described her and her partner as being ‘good parents and good people.’
And she spoke at length about the judicial review they had taken against the Commissioner of An Garda Siochana and the Director of Public Prosecutions, but Judge McNulty produced a copy of the High Court findings and read it into the court record.
Judge McNulty said the High Court terms noted that the applicants were to ‘withdraw their application for judicial review’ and he noted that there was to be a stay on the bench warrants until the sitting of Bantry District Court on 12th July 2018.
At that July 12th court, Judge Mary Dorgan adjourned the case back to Judge McNulty’s court and the case was finalised recently.
In the course of a lengthy submission, Rosarie O’Donoghue noted that several letters outlining their difficulties with the gardaí, the solicitors and the courts, had been sent to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and to the Department of Justice.
‘I am a survivor,’ she said, ‘and I am going all the way to get the justice my family deserve.’
The accused also claimed that the proceedings – both past and present – were ‘unsafe’ because they were based on ‘wrongful statements.’
In reply, Judge McNulty said: ‘All these matters in relation to inquiries and investigations are matters for the government and not matters for a District Court judge. They are for people wiser than myself and people with greater authority.’
Judge McNulty noted that the case against both Rosarie O’Donoghue and Daniel Hegarty – in respect of an altercation with their neighbours – went ahead in their absence on May 11th 2017.
On that occasion, Judge McNulty said the co-accused were well aware of the trial because the date of the hearing had been changed to facilitate them and to allow them to engage legal representation.
In May 2017, Judge McNulty convicted both Daniel Hegarty and Rosarie O’Donoghue of their respective offences, but adjourned sentencing because he wanted each of the accused to be brought before the court so he issued bench warrants for their arrest.
The bench warrants were, however, not executed because the couple immediately applied for a judicial review of the entire proceedings.
Arising from the altercation on June 15th 2015, Daniel Hegarty was convicted of assaulting Paddy O’Brien at Ardmanagh North.
He was also convicted of assaulting his neighbour’s daughter, Nuala O’Brien.
And he was convicted of engaging in offensive words or behaviour on the same date.
Rosarie O’Donoghue was convicted of causing an obstruction at Ardmanagh North on June 15th 2015 by parking a car in the middle of the roadway and refusing repeated requests by the gardaí to move it. Judge James McNulty fined her €1,000 for the offence on October 25th last but fixed recognisances for an appeal.
In respect of the offences against Daniel Hegarty, Judge McNulty noted that Paddy O’Brien – who was 69 at the time of the alleged offences – had given evidence that Hegarty hit him ‘a wallop’ after he turned Hegarty’s trespassing cattle out of his land.
At that court, it was also alleged that Daniel Hegarty had hit Nuala O’Brien on the hand when she stepped between the accused and her elderly father.
On October 25th, Judge McNulty imposed a six-month sentence on Daniel Hegarty in respect of both assault charges but ordered that they run concurrently. In respect of the public order offence – an offence of engaging in threatening or abusive words or behaviour – Judge McNulty fined Daniel Hegarty €1,000, but recognisances were fixed for appeal.
Additional charges – charges in which evidence had not previously been heard – were also dealt with at the October 25th sitting.
Sgt James O’Donovan gave evidence that Daniel Hegarty had at Ardmanagh on August 31st 2015 threatened to kill him, and had made a further threat to kill him on September 3rd last.
Daniel Hegarty – who repeatedly said he would have nothing to do with the court but nevertheless interjected throughout the hearing – had initially asked for his case to be heard by judge and jury.
When Insp Brian Murphy pointed out that the DPP had decided that the case should be heard in the District Court – Daniel Hegarty insisted on having the judge’s order produced in writing.
In evidence, Sgt O’Donovan said he was attempting to serve a committal warrant on Daniel Hegarty on August 31st 2015 when the threat to kill was made.
Gda Kennelly corroborated the allegation that Daniel Hegarty had threatened to ‘run over’ the sergeant, but this was denied by Daniel Hegarty.
During that incident, the sergeant said Daniel Hegarty had referred to the gardaí as ‘nothing but scum.’
He also said they were ‘corrupt’ and that ‘the courts were corrupt.’
In respect of the incident on September 3rd 2015, Sgt O’Donovan said he thought it best to call in the Regional Support Unit (RSU), who, unlike the gardaí, are armed.
Insp Brian Murphy said the reason for calling in the RSU was to ‘ensure a safe arrest would be carried out.’
The sergeant said his initial approach to the accused was met with a threat to take the petrol cannister and lighter he had in his hand and to ‘burn the clothes off me.’
Sgt O’Donovan said it was at that stage that he and the other local guards withdrew and let the RSU, who were on stand-by, take over.
He said they used a loudspeaker to advise the accused that they were going to enter the house.
The behaviour of the accused, who was subsequently arrested in an upstairs room, was described as being ‘very aggressive.’
And Sgt O’Donovan told the court: ‘I felt he was very unstable.’
Daniel Hegarty accused the sergeant of lying – an allegation he repeated as other members of the force gave corroborating evidence relating to the events of September 3rd.
Judge McNulty convicted Daniel Hegarty on the first charge of threatening to kill Sgt O’Donovan in August and sentenced him to 11 months imprisonment.
On the second charge of threatening to kill the garda sergeant in September, the judge sentenced Daniel Hegarty to 12 months, but suspended the sentence on the condition that the accused enter into a bond to keep the peace and commit ‘no offence of any kind.’
With recognisances fixed for appeal, the accused was released on bail.