A well-known Co Donegal publican who was stabbed in the back by a thug during a vicious attack looked visibly shaken after the thug was given 240 hours community service.
Martin Coyle shook his head and left Letterkenny Circuit Court as John Gibbons – who was facing two Section 3 assault charges – was given a non-custodial sentence.
Mr Coyle, who runs the Village Inn in Kerrykeel, could be seen shaking his head. His wife Laura, who was also attacked was visibly upset.
Details of the shocking incident on October 7, 2010, were relayed to the sentencing hearing today by prosecuting counsel Patricia McLaughlin and the guard who investigated it Garda Ken Dempsey.
John Gibbons and his brother Joe – who wasn’t before the court and is on the run outside the jurisdiction – had been drinking all day following the death of their grandmother.
Around 9pm their mother Frances Gibbons had called the bar to order takeaway food for the wake.
A short time later Mr Coyle was informed that Joe Gibbons wanted to see him outside.
The court heard Joe Gibbons charged at Mr Coyle, shouting ‘Right me and you down to the car park’.
Mr Coyle said he then saw John Gibbons – who had been barred from the premises – joining the attack.
Blows rained down from both men on the defenceless publican who ran back into the bar and into the kitchen area. His wife Laura was also hit.
“I continued to try to protect myself,” said Mr Coyle in his statement.
“I was pushed up against a steel table, I was slightly bent over – I remember taking a blow in the lower back and that must have been when I was stabbed.”
(Mr Coyle didn’t know at the time that he had been stabbed; the wound was found by Gda Dempsey when he arrived at the scene, the court heard).
The attack didn’t stop there however, said Ms McLaughlin.
John Gibbons hit Mr Coyle again, and then attempted to headbutt Laura Coyle.
Gda Dempsey said he later recovered a steak knife which he believed had been used to stab Mr Coyle.
CCTV footage from the premises confirmed the detail of the attack given by numerous witnesses.
The Gibbons had fled the scene. John Gibbons was arrested two days later.
Mr Coyle asked that his victim impact statement was not be read to today’s court. However it emerged he had to stop living at the bar for a time after the incident.
Gda Dempsey detailed John Gibbons’ previous convictions, six in all including one for a previous Section 3 assault.
In mitigation, defence barrister Peter Nolan said John Gibbons, who is now 26, had not come to Garda attention since the attack.
Gibbons then went into the dock and looking towards the Coyles, said: “I am sorry for what happened; it shouldn’t have happened.”
In a lengthy summing up Judge John O’Hagan said he knew Kerrykeel,
“It is a beautiful little village and there are lovely people in it,” he said.
He said Mr Coyle was a law-abiding and hard-working citizen trying his best to make a living in hard times.
“What was done on this particular night was absolutely disgraceful,” said Judge O’Hagan.
He said the Coyles had been actually preparing food for the Gibbons family after a funeral.
“Having injured Mr Coyle they just left him there like a piece of meat. They were full of drink,” said the judge.
“That’s a great example to be giving to your now five year old daughter and your partner who is a hard working woman who is doing her best,” the judge told Gibbons.
“We’ve had no explanation as to why this altercation took place at all.”
Judge O’Hagan said again that 90% of cases he hears are drink-fuelled Section 3 assaults.
He said such behaviour was now taking place at weddings, first communions, confirmation “and now I’m told at wakes and funerals.”
“The fact is that this was an errand of mercy for the funeral and it was turned into this theatre of assault,” said the judge.
He said there were mitigating factors; Gibbons had pleaded guilty saving the expense of a trial and an ordeal of giving evidence for the Coyles.
“I cannot be seen to take revenge, I can punish, but I cannot take revenge,” he said.
“People think that prisons are hotels; they are not. I am advised that I should look at an alternative remedy. The options open to me are Custodial sentence, a Suspended sentence or Community Service.
“Community Service does not avoid the words imprisonment; it is a substitute for imprisonment and it is not to be taken as someone getting off. It is to persuade people not to offend again.”
He said he understood the Coyles may not be happy with the sentence but community service was the appropriate sentence.
“It is on his record for his life,” said the judge
He jailed John Gibbons for 3 years on each count, but substituted 240 hours instead of prison. The sentences were concurrent.
The Coyles were visibly upset as they left the court.
Gibbons went outside, smoked a cigarette and laughed and joked with a friend as he left the court building.
More from Donegal Daily
- COUPLE SPEAK OF THEIR ‘UTTER DEVASTATION’ AFTER KNIFE THUG IS FREED
A COUPLE terrorised by a family gang in Co Donegal have spoken of their horror when a thug who attacked them walked free.
John Gibbons (pictured right) and his brother Joe have been terrorising the community in Fanad for years, garda sources have confirmed to Donegal Daily.
- ‘WE DON’T WANT KNIFE ATTACK THUG DOING HIS COMMUNITY SERVICE IN OUR VILLAGE’
VILLAGERS appalled at the release of a self-confessed thug who attacked the owners of their local pub say they will oppose any plans for him to serve a community service sentence in their village.
Fanad man John Gibbons, 26, was sentenced to 240 hours community service earlier […]
- LANDLORD WARNED HE MAY LOSE LICENSE AFTER SIXTH AFTER-HOURS OFFENCE A pub landlord refused to give Gardai his name or allow them into his premises because he did not feel they were properly investigating a serious assault on him.
Martin Coyle, landlord of the Village Inn in Kerrykeel, appeared at Letterkenny District Court yesterday.
He was charged […]
- JUDGE ORDERS PROBATION REPORT AFTER PUNCH-UP AT ‘THE GRILL’ OVER ‘GAY’ SHIRT ONE man suffered a broken jaw and another man bruising after a punch-up in a Co Donegal nightclub sparked by homophobic comments about a shirt, a court has heard.
Two men from the county appeared at Letterkenny District Court, each contesting assault charges arising out of an incident […]
- MAN REMANDED IN CUSTODY AFTER HIGH SPEED CHASE WITH GARDAI A young man stole a car and was involved in a high-speed chase with Gardai for more than 30 kms, a court has heard.
Cathal Dunleavy, 23, from, Glenvar, Kerrykeel, appeared at Letterkenny District Court today charged with 16 different offences.
They include fifteen charges of […]
- WOMAN GETS €45,000 FOR FALL AT DONEGAL SHOPPING CENTRE A woman who injured her ankle after her foot caught on an uneven footpath as she left a Donegal shopping centre has been awarded €45,000 in damages.
Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon said carer Helen Flynn suffered a severe injury to her ankle after the fall at Letterkenny Shopping […]
- ‘ELVIS’ IS FINED €50 FOR BEING DRUNK IN KERRYKEEL A Kerrykeel man known as 'Elvis' has been fined €50 for being intoxicated.
Gardai told Letterkenny District Court that they had received reports of a man on a bike asking for money from people in the car park of the LIDL supermarket in Milford.
Garda Enda Jennings told the court […]
- ELECTRONIC TABLET STOLEN FROM CHILD DURING ‘DISTRACTION THEFT’ AT SUPERMARKET A mum-of-two who was caught with a stolen Samsung Galaxy tablet following a 'distraction theft' at a supermarket has been given a two month suspended jail sentence.
Angelica Milesieu, 40, was with her children and another young adult at LIDL in Letterkenny on October 31st, […]
- FAMILY OF TRAGIC TEACHER ASK CORONER NOT TO RECORD DEATH AS ‘ACCIDENT’ The family of a teacher killed by a man who had downed six pints of beer before driving has asked a coroner not to say her death was as a result of a road accident.
Marie O’Donnell, 51, was killed instantly when a car crashed head-on into her when she was returning home from a […]
- DONEGAL GARDA HAS DRINK-DRIVING CRASH CASE ADJOURNED A Garda who is originally from Co Donegal has had a case of drink-driving and dangerous driving against him adjourned.
Kevin McLaughlin, 29, was remanded on continuing bail to appear again at Carrickmacross District Court on June 8th next.
McLaughlin, from Gartan, Churchill, is […]
- TERRIFIED MUM FORCED TO BAN CHILDREN FROM FRONT GARDEN OVER CRASH FEARS
A mum-of-four said she has been forced to ban her children from playing in the family's front garden after a number of near misses with out-of-control cars.
Moira McGinley says she is terrified her children will be wiped out after several cars ploughed through the garden fence of […]
- DONEGAL MAN TURNS HOME INTO MANCHESTER UNITED THEMED BAR!
A die-hard football fan from Donegal has turned part of his home into a Manchester United themed bar.
Red Devils fanatic Fergus McAteer from Kerrykeel has turned his attic into 'Fergie's Bar'.
The life-long Manchester United fan has amassed an impressive amount of memorabilia […]
- DONEGAL STUDENT CARVES A WINNING NICHE IN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
A Donegal student has come first in Joinery at the Ireland Skills competition, the annual national showcase for outstanding young craft trainees.
Sheamus McLaughlin from Kerrykeel, who is doing a BSc in Advanced Wood & Sustainable Building Technology degree at IT Sligo, […]
- DONEGAL VILLAGE NAMED CRIME CAPITAL OF IRELAND AFTER COMPUTER GLITCH DD EXCLUSIVE: A Donegal village has mistakenly been officially named as Ireland’s capital of crime.
Kerrykeel came top of the list for a number of serious offences after a computer error by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The figures were released today as part of the […]
- WHORISKEYS ARE LEADING LIGHTS AGAIN THIS CHRISTMAS
Michael and Mary Whoriskey's Christmas lights have become a huge attraction for people around Kerrykeel and further afield in recent years.
The lights have managed to raise thousands of euro for deserving charities.
This Saturday night at 8pm, former Donegal Person of the Year, […]
- HAPPY AND HEARTY – THE WAY WE SHOULD REMEMBER JAMIE
THIS is the schoolboy whose tragic death has caused heartbreak across Co Donegal.
Young Jamie Toner was killed in a farm accident on Saturday afternoon in Glenvar, Kerrykeel.
The 11 year old from Churchill was rushed by the emergency services to Letterkenny General Hospital […]
- COMMUNITY ALERT: LOCAL THIEVES TERRORISE PENSIONER IN HER HOME COMMUNITY ALERT: Gardaí are hunting a three-man gang of local criminals who terrorised a 75-year-old Donegal woman in her home at the weekend.
The victim was attacked at her home in the townland of Ranny, a remote area outside Kerrykeel. She was assaulted during the incident and her […]
- KERRYKEEL COUPLE ‘LIGHT UP’ THE LIVES OF SICK CHILDREN
A Kerrykeel couple have so far raised a whopping €13,000 for charity with their amazing Christmas lights.
Michael and Mary Whoriskey have been busy setting up hundreds of Christmas lights at their home since October!
But now their dedication and hard-work is paying off after […]
- DDTV – THE MOMENT KERRYKEEL FOOTBALL CLUB WAS FLOODED
- KERRYKEEL FLOODED IN TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR PEOPLE in Kerrykeel have been left in shock this evening after a massive downpour during a thunder storm.
Gardens in the village have been flooded and roads covered in two-feet of water after the deluge. Pix Martin Coyle/DonegalDaily