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Brothers in €90k pub riot said 'We're in charge now'

Seven brothers who violently took over a north Dublin Pub and caused €90,000 of damage are to be sentenced later this month at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Martin (41), David (37), Brian (31), Christopher (27), Paul (26), William (25) and Stephen (24) Lawrence pleaded guilty to violent disorder at John D's Pub, in Balbriggan on Bank Holiday Monday May 4, 2009.

Judge Katherine Delahunt adjourned sentencing until later this month to allow her to consider the case.


Sgt Liam Donahue told the court that landlord William Roe got a call from a member of staff at about 6.30pm to say that David Lawrence, who was barred from the pub, had been refused a drink.

Mr Roe said he would come down to the pub and on his way met a garda and told him of the situation. Mr Roe waited outside while the garda went inside. He heard furniture being smashed and people calling out "Travellers' rights."

Mr Roe's niece, Rachael McDonagh, heard David say "F**k Willie and f**k his bar, I am the barman now" and a female member of the group started clapping.

She heard David scream, "No one is getting in or out of this pub. The next person to come in is getting bottled."

David Lawrence was seen on CCTV behind the bar helping himself to drinks.

Gardai retreated until the public order unit arrived at 8.20pm and while they attempted to gain entry, David sprayed a fire extinguisher out through a broken window. They successfully reclaimed the pub at 8.45pm.

Sgt Donahue said CCTV footage showed the men, some of them shirtless, variously barricade the pub doors with stools, smash windows, break tables, smash pumps, spill alcohol and try to force the door to the office where the CCTV equipment was stored.

The court heard Mr Roe had taken the lease on the pub about 11 months before and had spent €45,000 on decorating and fireproofing the pub. Mr Roe told gardai after the incident the scene inside the pub was "similar to a battle zone."

Televisions, furniture, beer pumps, shelves and plaster work had been smashed and 103 panes of glass had to be refitted.

A snooker table had been pushed up against a back door to prevent gardai gaining access. Sgt Donahue said there were no physical injuries caused but William and Sinead Roe were now unemployed as a result of the incident.

The Lawrence brothers comprised of four Balbriggan men, David of Gardiners Hill, Paul of Hamilton Terrace, William of Milara Court and Stephen of Pinewood Green Road; along with Martin of The Dunes, Enniscrone, Co. Sligo; Brian of Talbot Hall, Applewood, Swords and Christopher of Mourne Park, Skerries.


Christopher has 12 previous convictions, Paul has 33, William has 29, David has three, Stephen has 32, Martin has 24 and Brian has 16 convictions. Most of the convictions were for minor road traffic and public order offences.

Defence counsel for the seven men submitted that they had expressed remorse for the incident and each had brought to court sums of money as compensation which together totalled approximately €9,000.

The men had entered guilty pleas saving the time and expense of a trial and counsel asked the court to show what leniency it could.