A TIMOLEAGUE farmer has been convicted of assaulting and injuring a member of An Garda Siochana.
Brian Sexton (53) of Carhue, Timoleague was charged with obstruction and assault following an incident at his farm on October 24th 2019, where Garda John McCarthy was injured and unable to work for 13 months.
Dairy farmer and neighbour DJ Keohane told Judge James McNulty that on the day in question he discovered his cows were in Brian Sexton’s garden and that Mr Sexton had blocked a gap in the fence with a car and was refusing to return them.
Mr Keohane said he called the gardaí and the Department of Agriculture so that the cows could be identified and returned to him.
‘There had been ongoing issues with this man and I just felt that I needed help to be honest about it,’ he said.
Mr Keohane told the court that when he arrived with four gardaí and department vet Michael Kelleher, who identified his six cows, Brian Sexton still refused to release his animals.
‘He said he was entitled to compensation,’ DJ Keohane said.
Mr Keohane said that there had been issues between himself and Brian Sexton about boundary fencing.
He said he, the vet, Garda Liam Lane and Garda Peader Collins had identified a narrow gap or gate in the fence where they could remove the cows and when they were about to do so, he saw Brian Sexton running over to them. He heard Garda John McCarthy calling out that his back had been hurt by Sexton.
Barrister for Sexton, Alan O’Dwyer, asked Mr Keohane if he had witnessed the alleged assault on Garda John McCarthy. He replied he had not.
Garda McCarthy told the court that on that day, along with Garda Nicola Colgan and Garda Peader Collins, he had called to Brian Sexton’s home where they met Mr Sexton’s wife, Mary, who confirmed that the cows were not their animals.
‘Brian Sexton then arrived and he also confirmed that the cows were not his. I cautioned him, and he told us that he had a prepared statement ready, which he served each of us with. This document was some ancient landed laws and had no relevance, so I asked him again to release the cows and he refused again,’ the garda said.
However, Garda McCarthy said that things calmed down when he, Garda Colgan and DJ Keohane walked the land and agreed about the boundary and stock wire issue.
‘We were there for about an hour negotiating with Brian Sexton about where a boundary should be put. While we were doing this I saw over my shoulder that the department officials with Garda Lane and Garda Collins had identified a gap and were attempting to move the cattle.’
Garda McCarthy said that he stood between a car and a fencing post to block the way and that he and Garda Colgan kept Brian Sexton talking in an effort to distract him while the cows were removed.
However, Garda McCarthy said that Brian Sexton spotted what was happening and that he ‘started roaring’ and barged into him.
‘I caught on to him and I was able to hold myself up but whatever way he hit me with force, I twisted my back fully around. I didn’t go down but I landed on the bonnet of the car – he was just in a temper. I saw him go up to the lads and wrap the wire around his neck,’ said the garda.
Under cross-examination, Garda McCarthy denied that he had put his arms around Brian Sexton, forcing him to the ground and knocking out some of his teeth.
‘Judge, I didn’t raised my voice to that man that day,’ he said. Brian Sexton told Judge McNulty he lifted his left leg to go over the wire to stop the cows being moved and his wire being cut, when Garda McCarthy knocked his teeth out with his shoulder and he fell to the ground with the garda standing over him.
‘I never assaulted Garda McCarthy. I never made a forward movement. I just lifted my left leg and he assaulted me,’ he said.
Mr Sexton said he is now two years without teeth as more teeth fell out after the alleged incident.
Asked if he had a medical report from his dentist in court Mr Sexton, said he hadn’t, but he had sent a copy to the chief superintendent and his solicitor had another copy.
His wife Mary Sexton told the court that she had taken photos of the alleged assault by Garda McCarthy on her husband.
‘Brian took these to Bandon and Sgt McCarthy took them out of his file,’ Mrs Sexton said.
Inspector Dave Callaghan asked: ‘You got them developed but you didn’t keep a copy to bring here today and are you’re saying that these photos were stolen by gardaí from Brian Sexton’s file?’ ‘Yes,’ Mrs Sexton said.
‘These are outrageous accusations,’ Inspector Callaghan said. Judge McNulty said: ‘The court has no doubt that Brian Sexton assaulted Garda McCarthy. And he obstructed Garda McCarthy.’
At a sitting the following day, the court heard that the defendant has nine previous convictions and Judge McNulty noted that most related to ‘conflict’.
Barrister Mr O’Dwyer said a majority of the offences occurred between August and October 2019 and there were land issues between his client and his parents. He added that his client lost a child that same year and had become depressed and was on medication.
Judge McNulty sentenced him to six months in prison on the assault charge but suspended it for two years. He added: ‘Brian Sexton is to refrain from interpersonal conflict or inter familia conflict and if he finds it hard to do so, he should seek professional help to help him.’
He also directed that he be supervised by the probation services for a period of two years.
He was also convicted and fined €2,000 on the obstruction charge and his bail money was forfeited to pay that fine.
At the same court sitting, Mr Sexton pleaded guilty to harassing DJ and Fiona Keohane on dates between 2019 and 2020, but details of the case were not heard.
Judge McNulty convicted him of the charges but deferred penalty to January 7th 2022 where he would hear details of the case as well as a plea in mitigation.