Saturday 24 March 2018

Family armed with poles had to be pepper sprayed to stop mass brawl in Dublin suburb, court hears

Couple and daughter ""took the law into their own hands" over earlier alleged assault, court heard

Lauren Quinn (21), Lorraine Quinn (47) and Edward Smyth (46)
Lauren Quinn (21), Lorraine Quinn (47) and Edward Smyth (46)
Lauren Quinn
Lorraine Quinn
Eddie Smyth

Andrew Phelan

A Dublin couple and their daughter, who armed themselves with poles before launching a terrifying attack on their neighbours, had to be pepper-sprayed by gardai to stop the mass brawl in Darndale, a court has heard.

Lorraine Quinn (47) and Edward Smyth (46), along with their daughter Lauren Quinn (21), "took the law into their own hands" when they retaliated against an alleged earlier assault on Smyth.

The mother and daughter trashed their neighbours' garden with poles and set upon people in the house, while Smyth tried to strangle one of his alleged assailants with a cord attached to a baton.

They carried out the attack when the simmering 20-year inter-family feud erupted into violence.

The brawl came to an end when gardai arrived and pepper-sprayed them.

Smyth, an unemployed kitchen porter; Lorraine Quinn, who is on disability allowance, and their daughter, a trainee beautician, pleaded guilty to violent disorder.

The incident happened at Buttercup Park, in Darndale, at 10am on August 31, 2015.

Judge Bryan Smyth dismissed all charges under the Probation of Offenders Act, leaving the accused without recorded convictions.

The three had pleaded guilty earlier and the case was back before Dublin District Court for a restorative justice programme report.

Defence barrister Cathal O Braonain said the accused had fully co-operated with the restorative justice programme that had been ordered by the court.

An "olive branch" had been extended to other family but there had been "no response to that", Mr O Braonain said.

It seemed from the report that matters "had settled to some degree" but it "doesn't appear that there is going to be a meeting of the minds in the way that was perhaps hoped".

Mr O Braonain said the defence did not seek to walk away from the seriousness of what happened but he reminded the court that Smyth had been assaulted immediately prior to the incident.

"My clients reacted to that in the way they did," he said.

They had since expressed deep regret for what happened and none of the three had any previous convictions.

He asked the judge to leave the accused without convictions.

"I think it is unfortunate that the other family, for whatever reason, didn't engage with the process having been invited to do so," Judge Smyth said.

"I think the three defendants have dealt with the matter in a very positive way."

Previously, the court was told that before violence broke out it was alleged that Smyth was seriously assaulted by two men who were members of the family at the other house - the Byrne household.

Garda Selina Proudfoot said members of the defendants' family retaliated and attacked the Byrne house.

Angelina and Niall Byrne, who were not involved in the alleged assault on Smyth, were the only occupants at the time.

Lorraine Quinn and others went with a curtain pole and destroyed plant pots and ornaments in the front garden.

She also attempted to break the front window.

She and her family retreated to their home and the two men who had allegedly assaulted Smyth then returned in a 4x4.

There was a verbal altercation, after which Lorraine Quinn smashed the vehicle's windows and continued to break plant pots with the curtain pole.

She also entered the house with others and they attacked people with weapons.

The court heard Lauren Quinn had a pole with three spikes coming from the top.

She also smashed garden ornaments, tried to break the front windows and attacked the windows of the vehicle.

Lauren Quinn also entered the Byrne house, threw a plant pot at Niall Byrne, kicked him and hit him in the face with the pole. She chased one of the assault suspects with the pole.

Smyth was involved in vandalising the front garden, trying to break a wooden trellis.

He also entered the Byrne house and took part in the brawl, beating the two assault suspects with a baton and his fists. He attempted to use a lace at the bottom of the baton to strangle one of the suspects.

Mr O Braonain said there had been animosity between the two families for years.

Each family believed the other was at fault, Gda Proudfoot said. There was a slow build-up, leading to the "flash point".

They behaved in an "outrageously inappropriate manner", Mr O Braonain said, adding that the accused were "otherwise law-abiding citizens".

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