A farmer accused of breaking his neighbour’s cheekbone in a row over a straying cow has been found not guilty.

Hugh McBride, aged 44, was accused of punching Gerard McGarvey, 51, at Golan, Milford.

A three day trial at Letterkenny Circuit Court heard completely conflicting reports of an alleged assault on July 8th, 2015.

McBride emphatically denied that he ever assaulted his neighbour and claimed he may have been picked injuries to his face while working on his farm.

However, Mr McGarvey claimed it was McBride who struck him twice in the head which resulted in him having his cheekbone broken and being forced to have an operation.

The pair agreed that a dispute between them stemmed back to a long-running row over a right-of-way between them.

Mr McGarvey claimed that at 8.30am on the morning of the incident he went to retrieve a cow which had strayed onto his neighbour’s land.

He went to take his cow out but he said McBride shouted at him not to open the gate or come onto his lands.

Mr McGarvey walked on and he said McBride began to push him but he continued to walk past him.

When he did, he said he suddenly felt a blow to the right side of his head and claimed that McBride said to him “Hit me, hit me, hit me.”

Mr McGarvey said he walked on saying “I never reacted or I did not do anything to provoke him. I just wanted to take my cow out.”

Dr Karena Hanley told the court that she attended to Mr McGarvey when he attended her surgery and that he was later diagnosed with a fractured cheekbone.

In his evidence, the accused claimed his land was constantly being over-run by cows, horses, sheep and even ducks.

He said he had suffered enough trespassing of animals belonging to Mr McGarvey on his lands.

He referred to one occasion as far back as eight years ago when his daughter was two years old when his daughter was surrounded by cows belonging to Mr McGarvey on his front lawn.

He said “All I wanted was for the Gardai to see what my family was going through between me and him.”

He added that he never touched Mr McGarvey.

Barrister for the accused, Mr Peter Nolan asked Mr McGarvey if it was not the case that he should have his animals under control at all times.

Mr McGarvey agrees but Mr Nolan asked him was it not the case that some of his sheep had actually broken out duirng the trial and the alleged victim agreed.

Mr McBride’s wife Maura said there is not a week that passes that Mr McGarvey’s animals do not stray onto their land and into their gardens.

She said she did not see her husband hitting Mr McGarvey as alleged.

“There were no punches thrown. I didn’t see any punches,” she said.

She added that her husband had asked her to film the incident from the house but she said she could not manage her phone as she had a small baby in her arms at the time.

Summing up Judge John Aylmer told the jury of eight men and four women that they must come to a decision in a cold and calculated manner.

He said they must not act of sympathy for either party if they believe that Mr McGarvey was attacked or if Mr McBride’s land was over-run by straying animals.

The jury took two hours and 15 minutes to return a not guilty verdict.


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