A man with an address in Ballybofey was among a group of five people who appeared in court charged in connection with a violent clash in Derry which has been linked to a ‘feud’ between two Traveller families.
The five, four adults and a teenager, appeared for a first remand hearing at Derry Magistrates’ Court in connection with the incident at Buncrana Road on Tuesday afternoon.
A sixth man, aged 28, arrested on Tuesday is currently in hospital recovering from injuries sustained during the incident.
Shocking footage of the incident shared on social media showed a dark coloured BMW 5-series car crashing head on into a another car, spinning it around outside McGinley’s filling station at around 12.40 pm.
The video footage showed a mother scrambling from her damaged car to rescue her daughter strapped in the rear in a child seat before fleeing to the side of the road for safety.
A number of men are also seen in the footage carrying weapons, including a pitchfork and a crossbow.
The court was told today that the violence was linked to a dispute between members of the ‘Derry Stokes’ family and the ‘Longford Stokes’ family.
It was alleged in court by one of the defence barristers that the ‘Longford Stokes’ had been living in Derry for the past 20 months but had recently received threats from the ‘Derry Stokes’.
Following the threats threats, the barrister claimed the ‘Longford Stokes’ had decided to leave Derry and were ”fleeing” from the city on Tuesday when they were “ambushed” by members of the ‘Derry Stokes’ family at the Buncrana Road filling station.
The barrister alleged that the ‘Longford Stokes’ had made police aware of the threats made to them and had asked the PSNI for an escort out of the city but this was refused, their barrister claimed.
However, the investigating detective confirmed Kevin Stokes had made this case during interview and while police did not agree to provide an escort, they had agreed the route the Stokes would take.
However, the officer said the family did not take this route, but went another way.
The defence added that the “ambush happened as four vehicles in the ‘Longford Stokes’ ‘convoy’, including a saloon vehicle towing a caravan, stopped at the filling station to get fuel.
The court was told that a member of the public who was driving a car which was struck by one of the vehicles linked to the accused suffered a fractured sternum.
Three members of the ‘Longford Stokes’ family – 28-year-old Kevin Stokes of Ballyarnett Park, 23-year-old Dylan Stokes, of Racecourse Road, and a 14-year-old boy, – were charged today in court.
Kevin Stokes is charged with a number of offences including affray, possession of a crossbow in a public place; causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
The court heard Kevin Stokes allegedly hit a 28-year-old man while he lay on the ground and is being treated for a fractured skull in hospital.
Dylan Stokes is charged with a number of driving offences including dangerous driving.
The 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named as he is under age, is charged with a number of offences including possession of a pitch fork in a public place and possession of an article with a blade or point in a public place.
Two men linked to the ‘Derry Stokes’ family allegedly involved in the feud also appeared before the same court.
Charles McDonagh, 19, from Silverwood in Ballybofey, is accused of dangerous driving and possession of a number of offensive weapons.
Police at the scene at Ballyarnett camp where two caravans were torched in Traveller feud
Martin Mongan, 25, of Ballyarnett camp in Derry, is charged with possession of an article with a blade or point in a public place, namely a Stanley knife.
A police officer objected to the five defendants being released on bail
The detective said “tensions” between the two families “remains unresolved” and there were concerns that there could be further violence.
In response to questioning from one of the defence barristers, the police confirmed that two caravans owned by the ‘Longford Stokes’ which had been left behind at Ballyarnett Traveller camp in their “haste” to leave Derry had been destroyed in an arson attack yesterday, Wednesday, August 18.
However, despite the police objections, Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare released all five defendants on bail, subject to conditions, including a £1,000 cash surety and a prohibition on having any contact with the alleged injured parties.
All five will appear again before the magistrates’s court on Thursday, September 16.