A FARMER has admitted spitting at his own grand-nephews aged six and seven as part of a bitter family dispute over land.
William McGeehan (56) apologised in Letterkenny District Court for spitting at the children, which Judge Paul Kelly described as "one of the most disgusting things anyone can do".
The court heard how Raymond Lynch, who is married to McGeehan's niece Maria, was walking with their boys Adam and Kyle when the incident happened in February last year.
McGeehan, who faced two counts of assault in court yesterday, had originally planned to contest the charges and the courtroom had been set up to show video interviews given by the schoolboys.
However, McGeehan later pleaded guilty to the charges.
Inspector Goretti Sheridan told the court that Mr Lynch and his two boys were walking down a laneway they share with the McGeehans.
James McGeehan was driving down the lane at Newmills, 5km from Letterkenny, in his white van when he stopped.
"William McGeehan spat on Mr Lynch before spitting on his son Adam, hitting him on the face and head," said Insp Sheridan. "He also spat at Kyle Lynch but missed. There is an ongoing family feud over land and Mr Lynch's wife is related to the McGeehans.
"Mr Lynch advises me that he is only in court today because he took great offence at this involving his children."
Frank Dorrian, solicitor for McGeehan, yesterday told the court: "My client feels the incident wasn't as extreme as it sounds but I have advised him there is no acceptable level at all in these matters for this sort of behaviour. I have told him the Lynch family must be allowed to walk the laneway without any hindrance and it appears this incident stems from a dispute over how the land has been divided between family members."
Judge Kelly asked the parents of the boys if they wished to speak.
"We just want to be left alone and we don't want our wee ones involved in this," Mrs Lynch told the judge.
Judge Kelly told McGeehan: "While there was no physical injury caused, this is one of the most disgusting things anyone can do and it is 10 times worse for a grown man to do it to a child.
"If you have a dispute over land there are remedies through the courts. This was a disgraceful way to carry on."
McGeehan, of Glenkeeragh, Newmills, Letterkenny, told the judge "there was a lot going on at the time and I didn't even think about what I was doing".
The farmer then walked across the court room and said "I'm sorry" to the boys' parents.
"That's accepted," responded Mr Lynch.
McGeehan was told by the judge to sign a bond to keep the peace for two years.