Row over vandalism claim triggered chain of events
A DISPUTE between neighbours which turned violent triggered the series of events which ultimately led to Junior Minister Trevor Sargent's shock resignation yesterday.
Travel agency worker Dominic McGowan (31), a constituent of Mr Sargent in north Co Dublin, became embroiled in a row with neighbour Stephen Mulvany (34) in September 2007.
McGowan said he witnessed a child trying to remove a road sign in his estate, Cardy Rock Close in Balbriggan.
He went to report the alleged act of vandalism to the child's parents but says he ended up being assaulted and headbutted by Mulvany, who lived a few hundred metres away in Cardy Rock Square.
McGowan told the TD at a constituency clinic in June 2008 he was unhappy at being summonsed to appear in court on a charge in relation to the incident.
Mr Sargent subsequently wrote to the prosecuting garda, saying he believed it was "wholly inappropriate" for a summons to be proceeded with as witnesses for McGowan had yet to be interviewed.
Both McGowan and Mulvany, a father-of-three, subsequently appeared at Balbriggan District Court on March 29 last year.
McGowan was convicted of threatening and abusive behaviour contrary to Section 6 of the Public Order Act. Judge Patrick Brady fined him €500.
The court heard he had no previous convictions.
A solicitor for McGowan had described him in court as being a "concerned resident in the estate".
However, Judge Brady remarked that he was "overly concerned", which resulted in him suffering from an injury.
Meanwhile, Mulvany was also convicted of threatening and abusive behaviour. He was also found guilty of the more serious charge of assault contrary to Section 2 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.
The judge fined him €500 and imposed a four-month prison sentence.
The verdict was appealed to the Circuit Court. The appeal was opened on February 19 and will resume on March 2.
During the initial case it emerged Mulvany had 10 previous convictions. These included a suspended one-month sentence he received in May 2004 for assault, intoxication in a public place and threatening and abusive behaviour.