Letterkenny man who claims he was provoked into an assault refused bail

July 13, 2023

A Letterkenny man who claims to have been provoked into an assault at Tesco car park has ben refused bail.

Matthew Lafferty is charged with assault causing harm to Michael Mawhinney yesterday (Wed).

The 35-year-old accused man from Calhame, Letterkenny appeared at Buncrana District Court where Gardai said they were strongly objecting to bail.

Garda Tom Nugent said there were fears that Lafferty has a history of bench warrants and has taken 15 since 2007.

He also feared that the accused could interfere with the victim despite claims from Lafferty’s family that Mr Mawhinney wished to withdraw his complaint.

The court was also told that Lafferty has a total of 14 previous convictions with some of these committed while on bail.

Garda Nugent added that the incident had been captured on CCTV and that the accused had made “admissions to a certain extent.”

He added that he was also objecting to bail because of the seriousness of the charge and the sentence likely to be imposed upon conviction.

Mr Patsy Gallagher, solicitor for Lafferty, said the last bench warrant for his client was in 2019. He said Lafferty had given ‘an explanation rather than an admission’.

“There was an altercation where there was provocation alleged and Mr Lafferty retaliated,” Mr Gallagher said.

Asked by Mr Gallagher if he was aware that the alleged injured was making a withdrawal statement, Garda Nugent said he was not aware of any such suggestion.

Judge Éiteáin Cunningham asked if there were any conditions that could be imposed to allay the State’s concern. Garda Sergeant Sean McDaid said there were none.

When put in the witness box, Lafferty said that he had been provoked by Mr Mawhinney whom he claims spit at him before claiming he would put him in the bot of a car.

Lafferty added that he reacted stupidly by assaulting the victim.

He said he was prepared to stay away from Mawhinney and his address and to sign on at Letterkenny Garda Station thre times a week.

Sergeant McDaid said it was the State’s case that there seemed to be a ‘bartering process’ ongoing regarding the possible withdrawal of allegations.

He said there was a fear that there would be further serious offences if Lafferty was released.

But Laferty’s solicitor Mr Gallagher replied “No-one can tell the future. There was a misunderstanding and he gave a full, frank and honest account in the witness box.”

Mr Gallagher said his client is ‘on the road to recovery’ and asked that bail be granted.

Judge Cunningham said the prosecution had established a case regarding the likelihood of Lafferty reoffending and the possible interference with witnesses.

Taking into account the nature and degree of the seriousness of the charges and the sentence charged and the sentence likely to be imposed upon conviction, Judge Cunningham refused bail.

Lafferty was remanded in custody to appear via video link at Monday’s sitting of Letterkenny District Court.