A man who walked free from court after shooting a neighbour in a row over a right of way is to have his sentence appealed by the Director
of Public Prosecutions.
The Irish Star reports that PJ Friel was charged with assault and discharging a firearm at farmer Gerard Sweeney.
Sweeney was hospitalised as a result of the attack which resulted in
him being shot in the face.
Friel (48) of Ballynakillew, Churchill, was charged with the offences
on January 3, 2015.
Friel was given the benefit of the probation act by Judge John O’Hagan
on the charges of assault and the discharge of a firearm when he
appeared at Buncrana Circuit Court.
The DPP had recommended that Friel be trialled by jury.
Judge John O’Hagan applied the probation act ‘in the hope that it
diffuses the situation’.
The Judge also ordered that three firearms belonging to Friel be
seized and disposed of.
Judge O’Hagan said “As they say in Alice In Wonderland, hopefully they
will all live happily ever after.
“In light of what has happened, the poison is out of the chalice. In
my view, this is the fairest way to discharge the matter.
“It was a very unfortunate affair, brought about in the heat of the
moment. A pellet went into Mr Sweeney’s eye and he has had difficulty
Friel faced a possible five years imprisonment for the two charges.
The first was a Section 3 assault under the Non-Fatal Offences Against
The Persons Act.
The second was that he did discharge a firearm being reckless as to
whether any person was injured or not contrary to Sec 8 of the
Firearms Offenses Weapons Act 1990.
Judge O’Hagan said: “Mr Sweeney brought a digger into the land and was
preparing what he considered a right of way to which he thought he was
“He was seen by Mr Friel and Mr Friel saw red. He thought: ‘This is my
land. He has no right to do that’. There had been a disagreement
before and this led to the final straw.
“Mr Friel took the law into his own hands. He had a shotgun and
discharged a cartridge past the digger and Mr Sweeney was injured.”
However, the DPP has now applied to have the case and the leniency of
the sentence appealed.
No date has yet been set for the appeal hearing which will be heard at
the Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin.