A farmer has been jailed for three years for a brutal and “premeditated” assault on his neighbor in Monaghan 10 years ago.
Eugene Hanratty Snr (63) of Castleblayney Road, Crossmaglen, Armagh was convicted by a jury following a trial in October. He had pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, on November 24, 2012.
Garda Detective Paul Everard told Garrett McCormack BL, Prosecution, that on the Saturday afternoon of the attack, Martin McAllister and his wife were driving at 4:20pm in Castleblayney on their way to Crossmaglen when a vehicle approached with its headlights on. .
Mr. McAllister said at trial that he felt his path was blocked by the other vehicle and that he could not pass it. He later recognized the car’s occupants as father and son, Eugene Hanratty Snr and his son Eugene Jnr.
Defendant got out of his car and began an assault on Mr. McAllister in his vehicle, trial heard. The victim said Hanratty punched him multiple times in the head, pulled him down by the hair and kicked him before the defendant dragged him out of the vehicle.
McAlister said at trial that the assault continued outside the car, with Hanratty continually kicking him while he was on the ground. His right arm was trampled and he fell in and out of consciousness.
He testified that Hanratty Snr knew he was a musician, so he felt the stomping on his arm was significant in this regard.
Detective Gda Everard said the victim’s wife, Mary McAllister, told jurors it was a sustained attack while her husband was in and out of the car.
She described asking Hanratty Snr to stop because she was concerned that if the assault continued, her husband’s injuries would be fatal. The trial heard that Hanratty Jnr also asked her father to stop attacking the man.
The victim sustained multiple bone fractures to his face, both eye sockets were broken, and he was left with a permanent loss of his peripheral vision. He has been treated numerous times but without success and his loss of peripheral vision “affects my daily life”.
Duck Hunting Rights
At Tuesday’s sentencing, Judge Melanie Greally said the jury rejected Hanratty’s just use-of-force defense, which held that the violence arose as a result of a physical altercation following a dispute over the hunting rights of ducks on local land.
She said the court sentenced Hanratty on the basis that there is no information of any long history between the parties and that it treated the assault as unprovoked and premeditated.
He said aggravating factors included this clear premeditation, the severity and brutality of the violence, the fact that most of the blows, including kicks, were directed at the victim’s head and face, and the fact that Hanratty stomped on the victim’s arm. of the victim knowing the victim is a musician.
He said he also took into consideration the adverse effects of the assault on the quality of life of the victim and his family and the fact that the assault was carried out in front of the man’s wife.
It established a main sentence of five years, which is the maximum sentence for the crime.
Judge Greally then noted as mitigating factors Hanratty’s lack of recent convictions and the fact that this type of “extreme violence” was entirely out of character.
She noted his good character and positive contributions to his family and community and said he was a “hands-on” farmer who worked hard.
‘pillar of the community’
Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, had previously claimed that his client was “a pillar of the community” who contributed to the activities of the local community, including the church and the GAA. He said that while his client does not fully accept the jury’s verdict, he does accept that he acted and used excessive violence that day.
Taking all of these mitigating factors into account, he set a four-year sentence and suspended the last year on the condition that he have no contact with Mr. McAllister or his family for the next decade.
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Last month’s conviction came after the third trial in the case. The first trial resulted in a disagreement and the jury was unable to reach a verdict, the second trial collapsed after the jury was discharged. Last October, the jury unanimously convicted Hanratty Snr after an hour-long deliberations.
Hanratty Snr has two prior convictions; one for assault on a garda in 1989 and one for criminal damage in 1997, the court heard. He has not come to the attention of the garda since the 2012 assault.
In October 2016, another Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury acquitted Eugene Hanratty Junior (41) Dundalk Road, Crossmaglen, Armagh of assaulting and causing harm to Mr McAllister. This was the case of the State that had not taken part in the physical beating, but was charged on the basis of joint venture.