January 27, 2014

A man who tried to stab his brother-in-law up to a dozen times during a mass for his own brother has been found guilty of assault causing harm.

Michael Ward was found guilty of assault causing harm after he stabbed his brother-in-law.

Martin Ward was found guilty of assault causing harm after he stabbed his brother-in-law.

Martin ‘Mattress’ Ward stabbed Michael McDonagh in the grounds of the Church of the Irish Martyrs in Letterkenny on June 26th, 2012.

Letterkenny District Court heard today how Ward, 33, tried to stab Mr McDonagh up to a dozen times through the window of his car

Mr McDonagh, his wife Ann and their children arrived at the second anniversary mass for Mrs McDonagh’s late brother Charlie who had drowned.

However just seconds after leaving his wife off to the front door of the church, Mr McDonagh was attacked.

He claims that the attacker was his brother-in-law Michael Ward who struck him in the face and then stabbed him in the face and back.

The father-of-six eventually struggled out of the passenger seat of the Ford Galaxy car and ran to a nearby shop where the shop-owner locked him in a room until the Gardai arrived.

Mr McDonagh claimed the issue had arisen following a previous dispute the accused had with his brother John Joe.

The victim said he feared for his life saying he still finds it difficult to get over his ordeal.

“It’s hard to get asleep at night thinking about someone stabbing you through a window,” he said.

Mr McDonagh’s wife Anne said she saw her husband being stabbed and then saw her brother running out a gate of he church grounds.

Garda Shane Lavelle received call at 9.45am and went to interview Mr McDonagh who said he had received three or four stab-wounds.

McDonagh claimed the knife was a black-handled camping knife with serrated edge.

Garda Lavelle said he saw two puncture wounds to the victim’s right hands, wounds to his face and a puncture wound to his back.

The accused Martin Ward, of 45 Ard Na Ri, Letterkenny, claimed he was nowhere near Co Donegal on the day of the alleged stabbing.

He claimed he was hunting hares and rabbits with a friend in Thurles where he was living.

He also claimed his car had broken down and couldn’t drive at more than 20mph without the car letting off smoke.

“If I was there that day the whole family would have seen me,” he said.

He even claimed he didn’t know where the Church of the Irish Martyrs was.

However Garda Inspector Michael Harrison said he was at his sister’s wedding, another niece’s wedding and his brother’s first anniversary mass in the same church.

Inspector Harrison asked Ward what the background to the case was?

He claimed it was over drink but then admitted when probed by the Garda that he had ben stabbed by the victim’s brother John Joe McDonagh.

“John Joe stabbed me but we sorted it out. I was sorry to see Michael stabbed but you have the wrong man,” he said.

However Judge Paul Kelly said on the balance of evidence he found the case against the accused proved.

The court then heard the accused has previous convictions for burglary, public order, assault, criminal damage and road traffic offences.

Some of the sentences had been suspended within the circuit court to include the time of the current offence.

Judge Kelly put the case back to the circuit court for sentence.

Inspector Michael Harrison objected to bail and the accused was remanded in custody until the current sitting of the circuit court which starts tomorrow.