Tuesday 16 January 2018

Mothers-to-be in clinic brawl

13 convicted after family feud turns to violence

Aisling Kiernan

THIRTEEN people who took part in a vicious row at a pre-natal clinic in which pepper spray was used on pregnant women have been convicted of violent disorder.

The incident happened on September 5, 2009, after a feud involving members of the Nevin and the Stokes Traveller families led to violent scenes at 9am in a clinic at St Joseph's Hospital in Longford.

Among the weapons used were a poker, a pen knife, scissors, and a canister of CS gas.

At Longford Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Rory McCabe handed down suspended sentences to 10 of those involved in what he described as a shameful disturbance.


He also indicated he would hand down custodial sentences to three people who he said were heavily to blame for the violence on the day, but later adjourned sentencing so that he could consider probation officers reports to determine their suitability for community service.

"It all came about as a result of a dispute between the Nevin and Stokes families," state barrister Desmond Dockery said.

"Sylvia Gavin was expecting her fourth child when she attended the clinic with her husband Martin and Cindy Duignan -- who was also expecting a child -- was there by appointment with her husband Raymond and her sister Teresa 'Baby T' Dinnegan.

"They all met at the clinic and there followed violence and abuse." Mr Dockery said that Cindy Duignan and her husband Raymond engaged in verbal abuse while Sylvia, who had a spray can, sprayed it at them.

"Martin had an extendable baton which he used and he was also found to have on him a knuckle duster."

Mr Dockery said a "fracas" then erupted between the parties and that staff and patients at the hospital were so in fear, the gardai were called.

"Before the gardai even got there, other members of the Stokes and Nevin families descended on the hospital and added to the chaos and when the gardai arrived, chaos really broke out," he added.

"There was blood on the door jambs and tufts of hair on the ground and gardai subsequently recovered a knuckle duster, scissors, pepper spray, pen knife, baton and a poker."

Mr Dockery said that Sylvia Gavin (30) and Martin Gavin (30), both of Sycamore Close, Clonbalt Woods; Cindy Duignan (27) and Raymond Duignan (29), both of Cluain Ard, Ardnacassa; Teresa 'Baby T' (Stokes) Dinnegan (24), of Springlawn; Nancy Gavin; Thomas McDonagh (28), of Ash Lawns, Clonbalt Woods; John Nevin (31), of Lisbrack Downs; John Duignan (33), of Cluain Ard; and Michael Ward (39), of Cluain Ard -- all in Longford -- were among those involved. A total of 13 defendants pleaded guilty to violent disorder charges.

Judge McCabe then sentenced Sylvia Gavin and Martin Gavin to six months each in prison, and Cindy Duignan to three months in prison.

However, after they provided him with direct evidence about the impact that a jail term would have on their lives, Judge McCabe ordered a probation report and adjourned proceedings until next February.

Raymond Duignan, Teresa Dinnegan and Nancy Gavin each received a three-month prison sentence, suspended for two years The remaining seven defendants were each sentenced to three months in jail, which the judge then suspended for two years.

The court was told that there has been no recurrence of the violence between members of the Gavin, Duignan and Nevin families since September 2009.

Irish Independent

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