Friday 24 November 2017

Farmer jailed for ordering repo men into pen with boar

Donal Connaughton, with his wife in the background. Connaughton was sentenced to a year in prison. James Flynn/AP
Donal Connaughton, with his wife in the background. Connaughton was sentenced to a year in prison. James Flynn/AP
Justin Tighe: attacked

Brian McDonald

A PIG farmer who ordered two repossession men to strip naked and get into a pen with an 'agitated' boar is beginning a 12-month jail sentence.

Donal Connaughton (55) was earlier found guilty of two counts of false imprisonment, two charges of threatening to cause serious harm, one count of assault and two of criminal damage.

He was found not guilty on another charge of assault by the jury of seven men and five women at Longford Circuit Court.

Connaughton, from Elfeet, Newtowncashel, Co Longford, was sentenced to a year in jail by Judge Anthony Hunt.

But the judge also noted that the repossession men were, in his view, placed in a very difficult position by the financial institution on whose behalf they were acting.

It was "extremely incorrect and improper" to send them to see if they could get "a few quid" from the farmer. The judge said that perhaps their principals had questions to answer.

Patrick Mulvey and Justin Tighe were employees of repossession company, Assets Security of Dun Laoghaire.

They had earlier told the court that they feared for their lives when they went to JAC Pigs Ltd in Co Longford on April 29, 2010, to repossess items on behalf of GE Money.

A scuffle had taken place in the yard at the pig farm during which Mr Mulvey and Mr Tighe said they were assaulted.

They had told the court that Connaughton had ordered them to strip and get into the pen with the agitated boar and they feared they were going to be violated by the animal.

The animal could be heard on an audio recording, made by one of the men on his phone during their ordeal.

The two men were heard promising Connaughton that they would never return, but he said he wanted to "teach them a lesson".

They were told they would be allowed to leave if they stripped and when they refused Connaughton made them get down on their knees and say the 'Our Father' before they were let go, leaving their truck behind.

The two repo men had arrived at the farm to repossess a generator and two power-washers.

Connaughton's solicitor Patricia Cronin said he had worked long hours with honesty and dedication. But the period leading up to 2010 had been difficult. "I was feeling the heat", he said, in a reference to trying to deal with "3,000 fat pigs".

He admitted he had become angry and that things had gone too far. He didn't attempt to justify the extent of his behaviour and he wanted to apologise.

Judge Hunt described his dealings with the two repossession men as "a disastrous overreaction". He imposed concurrent sentences of 12 months on each of the charges on which he was found guilty.

Irish Independent

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