Two men who were convicted of assault in the District Court had their charges dismissed on appeal at Letterkenny Circuit Court but the judge in the case told three victims from Galway: “You probably won’t want to come back to Donegal in a hurry again.”
Carpenters Enda Carty, John Kelly and Mark Smyth shook their heads at the back of the court as Judge John O’Hagan allowed an appeal and overturned the convictions of two Donegal men
Shane Diver of Glencar, Letterkenny, and Conor McGowan of Windyhall, Letterkenny were both convicted of assault in the district court after an incident in Port Road, Letterkenny on June 29, 2011.
The case centred around a complaint by the Galway men who had been staying in the Station House Hotel while working in the area at the time.
They outlined that on the night the finished work at 8.30pm and went for dinner in the Brewery bar at 9pm. They then continued on to Voodoo bar and nightclub for drinks where they meet with a man in a blue teeshirt.
Enda Carty said the man asked them what they were doing working in the area when “we had no work” but later the exchanged drinks and there was no incident.
On the way home near the hotel they were “jumped” by a group of people and while the man in the blue teeshirt was present he did not strike any blows, he added.
CCTV showed the men talking then being set upon by two in the group.
Mark Smyth suffered a broken jaw and lost a tooth and while the other men were struck but were not seriously injured.
The man in the blue teeshirt was later identified as Patrick Boyce who was interviewed and told gardaí one of the men in the footage looked like Shane Diver and one looked like Conor McGowan but his memory was “vague” as he had been drinking that day since 11am.
He viewed the CCTV in court and said he could not recall the incident and although he could be seen in the group who followed the Galway men back to the hotel he was unclear why he was there.
He added that in part of the CCTV footage he could not identify who were the people striking the blows.
Judge John O’Hagan said the evidence heard identifying the alleged attackers was in doubt and he had to give the benefit of that doubt to the accused men.
He said the “case stinks” and while the “suspicion around these two young men (the accused) would appear relatively straightforward” there was a doubt and he must apply the law in that manner.
”I have feelings on the matter but the law is the law,” he stated before allowing the appeal.
Below is the District Court report from Donegal Daily