independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Pig farmer was 'frothing at mouth' after alleged assault Two 'feared for their lives' during repossession bid

A FARMER charged with falsely imprisoning two men at his farm was frothing at the mouth when gardai arrived at his home shortly after the alleged incident.

One of the gardai said he feared the man was going to hit him.

Donal Connaughton (54) faces eight charges, while his wife Margaret (52) faces six charges arising out of an incident on their Co Longford farm on April 29, 2010. These include false imprisonment, threatening to kill or harm, and assault.

The Connaughtons, from Elfeet, Newtowncashel, claim they were assaulted by the two men after they arrived at their pig farm to repossess a generator and power washers.

The two men working for the Dublin repossession company said they feared for their lives when they tried to repossess the machinery.

Patrick Mulvey and Justin Tighe, who work for Assets Security in Dun Laoghaire – a company that repossesses items on behalf of financial institutions and others – went to the farm to repossess items on behalf of GE Money.

Garda Noel Egan told Longford Circuit Court that he and colleague Peter Mullen went to the Connaughtons' home on the evening of April 29, 2010. He said that Mr Connaughton was "in a very aggressive state. He abused us, me in particular. He told us to get off the property".

"He shouted at us and told us not to come back again unless we had a warrant," said the garda, who left the premises shortly after.

"He was frothing around the mouth. I was in fear that he was going to hit us."

Gda Mullen told the trial that Donal Connaughton was interviewed by gardai and denied the allegations put to him.

Fear

He said he denied calling one of the men working for the repossession company a "scumbag" and telling the two men he was "teaching them a lesson".

"I was constantly telling them to get out of the yard, that they were trespassing," Mr Connaughton told gardai.

He also denied telling the men he would "rip their head off", putting a curse on them, holding them against their will and putting them in fear.

He was asked by a garda if he accepted that he "lost the plot" on the date in question, to which he replied: "I was only protecting my property."

Mr Connaughton said the situation was "regrettable".

The trial heard Mr Connaughton was a director of JAC Pigs Ltd. He had a turnover of €1.5m in 2008, but the couple are now on jobseeker's allowance.

When interviewed by gardai in relation to the alleged incident, Margaret Connaughton said: "I should be the one making the complaint."

She said she suffered a hand injury when the door of a truck was closed on her.

She said one of the men said to her: "If you know what's good for you, f*** off."

A hire purchase arrangement had been made in relation to payment, she said.

Mrs Connaughton's counsel, Padraig Dwyer, put it to a witness from GE Money that his client had been contacted on an almost daily basis in relation to money owed.

"Do you really think it is necessary to contact people repeatedly when they know what they owe," he asked.

The witness, Damien O'Reilly, replied: "That's company policy."

The trial, before Judge Anthony Hunt and a jury of seven men and five women, will resume on Tuesday.

Irish Independent

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