While guilty pleas by the accused were considered in mitigation, Judge Keenan Johnson said these pleas did not carry much weight as the three men had been caught red-handed by the gardaí.
Considering the mitigating factors for Thomas McInerney (40), Twomey Park, Mountmellick; William McInerney (37), Newline Close, Mountrath; and Gerard McInerney (38), Moanbaun Close, Judge Johnson noted that the guilty pleas entered had saved the four gardaí who were injured in the incident from the stress and trauma of having to give evidence and be cross-examined.
“However, it has to be said that in this particular instance the amount of mitigation attracting to the guilty plea is considerably diluted by virtue of the fact that each of the accused was caught red-handed by the gardaí,” he said.
The judge said that each of the accused has children and any custodial sentence would negatively impact on their relationships with them.
In the probation report on William McInerney, it was said that he is easily influenced by his peers and family members. Since going into Cloverhill Prison he is on the enhanced level regime.
A letter was furnished to the court from Ann McInerney, his mother, indicating that both she and her husband, who is 72, depended on William before his incarceration.
“It is noted that William has nine siblings so hopefully they have been able to step into the breach and help their parents,” said Judge Johnson.
He went on to say that the probation report on Thomas McInerney made it clear the accused had a difficult upbringing, being one of 12 children who was reared within the Travelling community in a caravan. He suffered considerable poverty, deprivation and hardship.
“It is clear that he is a man of considerable talents,” said Judge Johnson, noting that the accused was a board member of the Portlaoise Travellers Action Group and had initiated a miniature wagons project for the men’s group.
He has also been offered a three-day a week part-time job with Byrne Tyres Services Mountmellick.
“It seems strange that the accused now has an offer of employment when he is incarcerated and awaiting sentence on serious charges. One wonders why the accused wasn’t in this employment before the offence was committed,” said the judge.
Gerard McInerney, brother of Thomas, has also been offered employment, with the Tyres and Service Superstore, with outlets in Tallaght, Walkinstown and Finglas.
Judge Johnson said it is not clear how feasible that offer of employment is given that the accused resides in Mountrath. He is also on the enhanced regime in Cloverhill Prison.
Also provided to the court by way of mitigation were testimonials on William and Thomas McInerney from John Hargroves, who Judge Johnson described as “the purported managing director of Silvercrete Construction.”
Mr Hargroves described William and Thomas as excellent workers. Having read the testimonials, Judge Johnson said the court had difficulty equating them with the probation reports which indicated that neither had any employment history.
Mr Hargroves was asked to attend to court, where he said he had employed the two accused for a number of weeks in 2007 refurbishing a house, but admitted the house belonged to his brother. He further admitted he didn’t know the two accused particularly well, and had paid them a quarter of the going rate.
Judge Johnson said the court would be disregarding the entirety of his testimonials on the basis that they cannot be relied upon as being truthful and accurate.