Thursday 22 February 2018

'Farmer told us to strip, get in pen with boar,' say repossession company workers

John Fallon

TWO men working for a repossession company were told to strip and get into a pen with a wild boar after a confrontation with a farmer, a court has been told.

The two men working for the Dublin company said they feared for their lives when they tried to repossess items at a pig farm in Co Longford.

They said that they were only allowed to leave the farm belonging to Donal and Margaret Connaughton once they went down on their knees and said a prayer.

Both men claim they were assaulted and held against their will. They feared they were going to be violated by the agitated large boar.

The Connaughtons, from Elfeet, Newtowncashel, claim they were assaulted by the men after they arrived to repossess a generator and power-washers on April 29, 2010.

Donal Connaughton faces eight charges and his wife faces six charges. These include false imprisonment, threatening to kill or harm, and assault.

Patrick Mulvey and Justin Tighe, who work for Assets Security in Dun Laoighire, told Judge Anthony Hunt that they feared for the lives after going to JAC Pigs Ltd to repossess items on behalf of GE Money.

Longford Circuit Court heard that the Connaughtons were running their family pig farming business for 22 years at the time of the incident and they had 12,000 pigs.

The jury yesterday heard a 30-minute audio clip recorded by Mr Mulvey on his phone during the heated exchange.

The men said that after arriving, Mr Mulvey walked to the Connaughton house as he had all the paperwork, while Mr Tighe remained in the truck.

Mr Mulvey alleges that he was kicked and punched when he returned towards the truck.

Lorry driver Mr Tighe said when he jumped out of the truck to help Mr Mulvey, Mrs Connaughton tried to take the keys.

Mr Tighe said they were told by Mr Connaughton that they would be "lucky to get out alive".

"He said to us that we had met the devil and he told me he would take my head off and eat it. He said if we were willing to strip we could walk down the road naked," said Mr Tighe.

He said they refused and just asked to be let go.

The witness, who told the court he is receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress, said Mr Connaughton instructed one of the farm workers to bring out a boar and "fire her up". He said that the animal was prodded and became more agitated.

He added that Mr Connaughton asked them which of them was man enough to get into the pen with the wild boar. He added that the boar would show them what happens to inmates in prison.

Mr Tighe said they continued to plead to be allowed to leave. He said they could if they got on their knees and recited the 'Our Father', which they did.

Mr Tighe said he interrupted them towards the end of the prayer and drew attention to the reference to trespass, and that they should heed this.

He said Mr Connaughton told them he was impounding their vehicle, that they had got him "on a good day" and they walked away from the farm before calling the guards.

In a statement to gardai, Mr Connaughton said that he was surprised to discover people on his property repossessing items as he had worked out a deal with the company. He alleged that he had been assaulted as he was walked down the yard and that his wife had suffered a hand injury when Mr Tighe had slammed the door of the truck.

The trial will resume today and is set to continue until the end of next week.

Irish Independent

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