Tuesday 20 March 2018

Man pleads guilty to land dispute gun attack on neighbour

Letterkenny Circuit Court
Letterkenny Circuit Court

Greg Harkin

A MAN due to go on trial for shooting a farmer during a right of way dispute has changed his plea to guilty.

Patrick Joseph Friel, (48), from Ballynakillew, Churchill, Co Donegal, was re-arraigned in front of a jury panel at Letterkenny Circuit Court today.

He admitted two offences, one of possession of an air rifle without a licence and one of Section 3 assault causing harm to Gerard Sweeney, (44) in Ballynakillew on January 3 last year.

Patricia McLaughlin, counsel for the Director of Public Prosections (DPP), said a third charge of discharging a firearm was no longer being pursued.

She said the guilty pleas were accepted on the basis that full facts in the case would be given at a sentencing hearing.

Judge John O’Hagan released Friel on continuing bail.

He ordered a welfare and probation report on the accused.

The judge said Mr Sweeney should make a victim impact statement in time for the December court and he said the victim should be invited to give that statement in person at the sentencing hearing.

At the time of the shooting incident Mr Sweeney was repairing a laneway with his digger when he was attacked.

He was hit with more than a dozen pellets and had to have shrapnel removed from an eye by surgeons at University Hospital Galway.

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