Jury fails to reach verdict against farmer accused of assault in row over cow

May 6, 2017

A jury has failed to reach a verdict in the case of a farmer accused of assaulting his neighbour in a row over a straying cow.

Gerard McGarvey of Golan, Milford, claimed he was assaulted by his neighbour Hughie McBride on the morning of 8 July, 2015.

McGarvey told Letterkenny Circuit Court that he was going to work at Milford Mart after 8am on the day in question, when he noticed one of his cows had broken out and was in McBride’s garden.

However, when he went to try and get the black Hereford cow out, he was prevented from doing so by McBride.

McGarvey brushed past his neighbour and admitted trespassing onto McBride’s land to get his cow.

However, in evidence, McGarvey claimed that he was punched twice in the head and on the ear by McBride.

The cow eventually got off of McBride’s land and McGarvey said he later attended his doctor.

He was referred to Letterkenny General Hospital and later to see a facial specialist at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.

Medical evidence was given that McGarvey, 49, had suffered a fractured jaw and had to have a titanium plate fitted into his jaw.

McGarvey had suffered a fractured jaw and had to have a titanium plate fitted into his jaw

The accused man, McBride, strenuously denied that he assaulted his neighbour. He claimed that he was simply fed up of Mr McGarvey’s animals coming into his garden.

McBride and his wife claimed their garden had been destroyed by McGarvey’s animals and that they had continually reported the matter to gardai.

However, a station officer at Milford Garda Station said he had checked the Garda Pulse system and there was just one report of a sheep coming into the McBride garden.

The accused man said he did not like to say so, but he swore on his children’s lives that he did not assault the alleged victim.

He said he had contacted the Bovine Office and then the cow pound in Cavan, which impounded stray animals until they were paid for by their owners.

Peter Nolan, barrister for McBride, put it to McGarvey that his animals were constantly straying into his client’s property.

Silage not paid for

He said the real reason McGarvey had accused his client, McBride, of assault was because he owed his client €450 for silage he had not paid for.

McGarvey admitted that he owed the money for the silage. The barrister put it to McGarvey that he had been “like a raging bull that morning trying to get his cow”.

“You were going to get that cow and you didn’t care if you had to walk over that man,” said the barrister, but McGarvey said he “never touched anyone”.

The jury retired to consider its verdict on Friday afternoon (5 May), but returned and told Judge Terence O’Sullivan that they could not reach a unanimous verdict in the case.

Majority verdict

The judge sent them back to their jury room and told them they must return a verdict of no less than 10 members.

However, the jury returned yet again a short time later and told the judge they simply could not reach a majority verdict.

Judge O’Sullivan discharged the jury and adjourned the case until the next sitting of the circuit court in Letterkenny.