Brother found guilty of assault in land dispute
Published in The Leinster Leader on Monday 1st December 2008
A 49-year-old man found guilty of assaulting his brother over
the proposed sale of a family farm has been ordered to go to
mediation, Athy District Court heard last week.
Mr Rory Feeney, with an address given as Sunmount, Burrin St,
Carlow, pleaded not guilty to assault and public order charges
on 8 March last.
The court heard the long-running family feud centred on the
ownership of a farm in Arles, Co Laois. The farm is currently
owned by numerous siblings and relations of the Feeney family.
It was previously owned by an uncle.
The court heard a row erupted on the farm on 8 March last. In
evidence, Mr Ronan Feeney said his brother, the defendant Rory,
approached the farmyard in anger and “pinned” his other brother
Mr Gavin Feeney against the wall. “We had to put him [Rory] to
the ground, lie him on his back to restrain him. We pinned his
arms behind his back. We didn’t want things to get out of hand,”
said Mr Ronan Feeney.
One charge of assault by Mr Rory Feeney on Mr Ronan Feeney was
struck out as the latter admitted in evidence that no assault
The victim, Mr Gavin Feeney, also gave evidence in Athy District
Court. “He [Rory] jumped over the gate and lunged at me and
threw me against the wall,” he said.
The court heard the brothers then restrained the defendant for
more than 10 minutes until garda arrived on the scene. “He was
roaring and shouting but we felt we had no option but to
restrain him,” said Mr Gavin Feeney.
“The property is still up for sale. It’s a family dispute. All
we want is to walk on the land and not be threatened. We don’t
want to fight. I don’t want to be threatened,” he added.
Garda arrived on the scene a short time later. In evidence,
Garda Kelly said the defendant was “very aggressive” and
“abusive”. He explained: “I told them not to let go of him. I
was aware of Rory and his violent nature. I asked him “What’s
wrong?” And he told me to “**** off, it’s none of your
business.” He was later taken to Carlow Garda Station where he
was subsequently charged with assault and breach of the peace.
Defendant Mr Rory Feeney denied all charges. He claimed his
brothers had put the farm up for sale shortly after their
father’s death without his knowledge or permission. “All I could
hear were the boys roaring “Grab him, grab his arm.” I resisted
and put up a fight. I don’t know what happened next. They had me
pinned to the ground. They were so aggressive and had an agenda
in their heads. They attacked me. I was assaulted,” claimed Mr
Judge Desmond Zaidan noted that it was a “sad” and “pathetic”
situation. “Is your client willing to go to mediation on this
matter?” he asked. “The family need to try to sort this pathetic
situation. It’s sad... The sooner mediation sets in the better
for all. This is an issue over land, allegations have been
festering, it’s brother against brother.”
Judge Zaidan noted the State’s witnesses did not fabricate their
evidence. “If Gavin and Ronan wanted to stitch their brother up,
they could have fabricated their evidence and statements, but
they didn’t. Ronan in evidence was very forthright and accepts
that his brother did not assault him. The garda and I are
satisfied that both Gavin and Ronan were the ones attacked. This
is a tragic case. It’s sad that it has come to this.”
He ordered for an independent mediator to be appointed as a
matter of urgency for the family to resolve the ongoing dispute.
“Life is short and it’s not worth this. This situation could
have been a lot worse.” Judge Zaidan adjourned his sentencing
until 27 January.
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