Saturday 17 March 2018

Fresh probe into boar farmer's jury tamper claim

Brian McDonald

GARDAI will carry out a second investigation into an allegation of jury tampering in the trial of a man accused of ordering two repossession men to strip and get into a pen with a boar.

Circuit Court Judge Tony Hunt yesterday gave gardai six weeks to investigate the allegation arising from "new material" provided by convicted pig farmer Donal Connaughton. Connaughton (55) was convicted by a jury last December of a number of charges relating to an incident at his farm in April 2010 during which he ordered two repossession men to strip naked and get into a pen with an "agitated" boar.

The farmer, from Elfeet, Newtowncashel, Co Longford, was found guilty of two counts of false imprisonment, two charges of threatening to cause serious harm, one count of assault and one count of criminal damage. He was found not guilty of one charge of assault by the jury at Longford Circuit Criminal Court. His wife Margaret was found not guilty of all six charges she appeared on.

During the trial, the jury listened to audio recorded by one of the repossession men.

Patrick Mulvey and Justin Tighe, employees of Assets Security of Dun Laoghaire, told the court they feared for their lives after going to repossess items on behalf of GE Money.

They gave evidence that Connaughton had ordered them to strip and get into the pen with the boar and they feared they were going to be violated by the animal. Both men were heard pleading to be let go. The men were told to strip and they would be allowed to walk out of the yard, but when they refused, Connaughton got them to go on their knees and say the 'Our Father' before they were let go.

Prior to yesterday's sitting of Longford Circuit Court in Tullamore, sentencing was twice scheduled but was adjourned as a result of defence applications.

Last February, Connaughton sought to have a mistrial declared because of "evidence" he had in relation to jury misconduct. The matter was adjourned to June and on that occasion the prosecution told Judge Hunt nothing had arisen from the garda investigation.


But an adjournment was granted to yesterday.

Defence solicitor Patricia Cronin told Judge Hunt that she was making an application, which was not being opposed by the prosecution. Donal Keane, appearing for the DPP, said material had been supplied by Connaughton to the DPP in respect of jury tampering.

Judge Hunt said: "This is the last look".

The case was adjourned for six weeks to allow the garda investigation to take place.

Irish Independent

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