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Councillor convicted of assaulting his brother and nephew over farm inheritance to be sentenced next month

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Cllr Frank Roche

Cllr Frank Roche

Cllr Frank Roche

A councillor convicted of assaulting his brother and nephew as part of a long-running dispute over a farm inheritance will be sentenced next month.

Councillor Frank Roche (58) of Ballyadeen, Castletownroche, Co Cork had denied assaulting his brother, David Roche, and his nephew, Colm Roche, in 2020.

However, he was convicted before Fermoy District Court of assaulting both men and of engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting language contrary to Section 6 of the Public Order Act.

All three charges arose from an incident at Ballyadeen in north Cork on January 18, 2020.

After a special court sitting to deal with the matter last November, Councillor Roche was convicted on all three charges by Judge Alec Gabbett.

Sentencing was adjourned until January 28. However, Judge Joanne Carroll adjourned the matter at Fermoy District Court until February 25 to allow Judge Gabbett to deal with sentencing.

Mr Roche represents the Fermoy Municipal Area on Cork County Council as an independent member.

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He is an agricultural contractor but, the court was previously told, he had an acrimonious relationship with his two brothers, David and Patrick, since they were left the family farm by their father, David Senior.

Their father had bequeathed half the family farm to David and half to Patrick but had left nothing to his son Frank beyond a site for a house.

This was because of the problematic relationship that he had with Frank which stretched back over 30 years.

David Roche told the court how, on the day in question, he and his son, Colm, were driving along a road near the farm at Ballyadeen when he spotted a silver jeep that had pulled in.

They were on their way to the farm to pay contractors for work that had been done.

David said he lowered the passenger window of his own 4x4 to speak to the driver whom he didn’t recognise.

He said his brother Frank then came around the back of the jeep and grabbed his son Colm in a headlock and tried to pull him out through the window.

The court heard Colm managed to break free of Frank Roche, who then started to punch him.

David Roche confronted his brother who then began striking him. Colm Roche managed to come behind his uncle and grab his arms and they tussled into a field before Frank Roche broke free.

“I shouted at him to go away and leave us alone and to live his own life but he told me he would die on the farm and that I was a lousy b***ard and that we would all rot in hell,” David Roche told the court.

David added that he feared for his own safety and that of his son.

Colm Roche corroborated his father’s version of events and said he filmed the final moments of the exchange on his phone.

A video clip was played for Judge Gabbett in which Frank Roche could be heard shouting repeatedly that he hoped both Colm and David Roche would “rot in f**king hell”.

Frank Roche vehemently denied the charges.

He said he was driving with his friend Mark Guerin when he spotted an orange spanner lying on the road which he thought might be his.

The defendant said he got out to pick it up when David Roche drove at him and tried to run him down.

“He has a habit of driving at me at high speed… I am afraid of my brother, they have ruined my life and cost me my farm and now they want to 'do down' my character and get me out of Cork County Council because it gives me a platform to highlight farm abuse,” he said.

Inspector Tony Sullivan asked why he told gardaí that he did not want to make a statement when they contacted him?

Frank Roche said he was fearful of his brother and he simply wanted to get on with his life.

“I don’t want to be here today. I want to be able to get on with my life and get on with my role as a public representative helping other people in my community,” he said.

The councillor apologised for using the bad language heard on the video clip but said he was in severe shock at the time.

Judge Gabbett said there was a clear conflict between the evidence of David Roche and Colm Roche and that of Frank Roche.

“I find them (father and son) credible and, as far as I’m concerned, an assault took place,” Judge Gabbett said.

“This is a classic family dispute and it needs to be addressed  we have a situation here where it could escalate and people could hurt each other.”

The case was adjourned for sentencing and to allow the court to hear a victim impact statement from David Roche.

A Probation and Welfare Service (PWS) report will also be prepared on

Councillor Frank Roche.

The defendant has three previous convictions for assaults, one of which involved a three-month suspended sentence, as well as several Road Traffic Act convictions.


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