An emigrant could no longer enjoy family holidays in Roundstone and a local man was too afraid to attend Mass after the trauma of being set upon by three young men on the day of the village regatta.
Ian McDonagh, 23, of Toombeola, Roundstone, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm against Michael O’Regan and violent disorder on July 19, 2014.
Michael and Jason O Neachtain of Derryrush, Rosmuc, 22-year-old twins, pleaded guilty to violent disorder. Further charges were withdrawn on the guilty plea.
Garda Shane Nallen told Clifden District Court he had responded to reports of an assault in Roundstone on regatta day. He met with Mark Worley, his father Sid Worley and Michael O’Regan.
“I could see they had injuries consistent with an assault. They informed me they had been out in Roundstone, they were drinking on the street as there was music, when a group of males began to shout at them,” Gda Nallen stated.
Mark Worley and Michael O’Regan left and went to the Shamrock Bar. Soon this group of men arrived at the bar, passing by them and settling at the back of the pub.
“One male started shouting at them and went out the door. Mr Worley called his father to collect him and Michael O’Regan got up to leave when a glass was thrown at him. Ian McDonagh started shouting at Mr O’Regan, ‘I’ll f..king kill you’”.
Mark Worley got up to leave after hearing the glass break. McDonagh then roared at him: “I’ll f..king kill you. I’ll f..king kill you Worley.”
“Michael O’Regan was walking when he was jumped from behind and brought to the ground. Ian McDonagh began to kick Mr O’Regan in the head numerous times,” Gda Nallen told the court.
“Sid Worley arrived and Ian McDonagh and two associates, Michael and Jason O Neachtain, who also carried out the assault, surrounded the car and jumped on the car and kicked the windscreen causing it to smash.”
The incident had a lasting impact on Sid Worley, an elderly man who lived alone and was in fear at home as he continued to live near McDonagh.
Barrister for Jason O Neachtain, Fiachra Breathnach, told the court that words were exchanged the previous weekend which had sparked the incident.
“They had been having words with an elderly man and it stemmed from that,” he remarked.
Mr O’Regan said he had been returning to Roundstone from his adopted home in Florida since 2004 with his wife, who was a Worley, bringing their three children with them. Now he felt like a stranger.
“Fond memories have turned into a nightmare … it was the one thing we looked forward to after working hard all year,” he stated.
Instead of their family holiday this year, he had to return to give evidence in the case.
“My brother-in-law Mark can’t go to the local pub on a Friday to have a pint without fear of a confrontation. My wife’s father and brother are not comfortable in their own home.”
Mark Worley said he continued to have many sleepless nights. “I was threatened to be killed. I take that very strongly. It’s not a nice thing to happen,” he testified.
“I have a young family. I’m fearful to go away for work as my wife is too afraid. My father his back door barricaded like Fort Knox. We don’t go to Roundstone – it’s our house, our town. We don’t even to go Mass.”
Mr Worley said on several occasions McDonagh had pulled alongside him in car and he felt intimidated by him even though nothing was said.
“I want a line drawn under it … I just want to get on with my life.”
Barrister for McDonagh, Brendan Browne, said his client wished to formally apologise. “He’s remorseful, he’s ashamed of his behaviour, he regrets his conduct.”
Judge Marie Keane asked if the defendant wished to apologise himself, to which Mr Browne said he did.
Under oath and instructed by the Judge to face both Mr O’Regan and Mr Worley directly, McDonagh said he was sorry for that night and things had gone too far.
Asked if there would be any further difficulties between himself and the injured men, McDonagh replied: “Definitely not.”
The O Neachtain twins issued similar apologies facing the men.
Judge Keane asked all three if they understood the importance of tourism to a village like Roundstone.
Garda Nallen said while the injured parties were not seeking any compensation, he would like to point out that Mr O’Regan had spent €3,000 in flights to give evidence.
Mr Browne, on behalf of McDonagh, said his client had described it as a “moment of madness”. He had a sum of €1,590 in court to help defray the travel costs.
McDonagh, who was employed in the building trade, had a girlfriend who was five months pregnant. Jason O Neachtain was training to be a nurse while helping his father on the family farm.
He was in a car crash two years ago in which a friend lost his life which had changed his outlook on life and led to depression, his barrister Fiachra Breathnach told the court.
Since the birth of his child 18 months ago, his situation has improved and wants to be around to raise his child with his partner.
Michael O Neachtain lived at home and also helped on the farm and worked as a handy man.
He too was in the fatal car crash, which had a profound effect on him and had led to alcohol difficulties.
The O Neachtains were willing to give €300 each to help with travelling expenses.
Judge Keane said the “unprovoked and appalling attack” had had a very serious effect on the victims.
She said they had blighted Mr O’Regan’s connection to a part of the world which he held very dearly, a connection which was particularly important to emigrants.
“No money is going to restore his peace and sanctuary,” she stressed.
Judge Keane also noted that Mr Worsley could not attend Mass which was of significant importance to people in a community such as Roundstone.
She handed McDonagh seven months’ imprisonment but suspended it for two years on condition he had no contact with the injured parties and was of good behaviour.
“You better find somewhere else to park other than beside Mr Worley. You’re simply not to open your mouth to Mr Worley,” she warned.
The O Neachtains were each sentenced two three months, suspended for two years on the same conditions.
A total of €€2,190 was to be handed over to defray Mr O’Regan’s flight costs and a further €500 to pay for Sid Worley’s windscreen.