TWO cousins from Portlaoise, one of whom was involved in the 2008 riots in Mullingar, appeared at the recent Circuit Court charged with keeping a door to door salesman a prisoner in their home for some 40 minutes.
Christopher and Hugh Nevin faced a charge of false imprisonment, at the home of Christopher Nevin at Woodgrove, Ballyfin Road, Portlaoise, on June 4, 2011. The court heard that the injured party, an Airtricity salesman, was dragged into the house by the Nevins and received a number of blows, in a case which Judge Tony Hunt described as “bizarre”.
Garda Sgt James Phelan gave evidence, led by State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly. The salesman was met in the driveway of the house by one of the Nevins. A joke was made and the salesman said hello, but he was then struck by Nevin and manhandled into the house. In his statement to gardaí, the injured party said:
“They overpowered me... I pleaded with them to let me go, I was in fear for my life. They held me down and were roaring at me, after this the two of them opened a beer and started laughing and joking at me.”
He said that one of the Nevins kept asking him questions about Airtricity, and when he tried to get to the door he was punched in the ribs and told, “You’re going nowhere.” One of the Nevins also began “jousting” him with a stick. The salesman finally pushed one of the Nevins aside and managed to get out of the house and run to a neighbouring property. By the time the gardaí arrived, neither Nevin was still at the scene.
“It was a terrifying experience for a man going about his job,” said Sgt Phelan.
The sergeant said that when arrested, Christopher Nevin denied the incident and claimed that the salesman had called to his house but he could not recall what happened.
“He admitted they had a considerable amount of alcohol taken,” said Sgt Phelan.
Sgt Phelan said that Hugh Nevin was more co-operative and had basically blamed Christopher for the offence.
“I was having a civil chat with him and Christy got rough,” Hugh Nevin told gardaí.
Sgt Phelan told the court that efforts were subsequently made to get an injured party statement from the salesman, but he could not be found.
Christopher Nevin has 49 previous convictions and received an 18-month suspended sentence for his part in the Traveller riot in Mullingar in 2008.
Hugh Nevin has six previous convictions.
Defence for Christopher Nevin, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick said that her client, a Traveller who has now moved back to Mullingar, had brought €1,800 compensation to court and had written a letter of apology.
Defence for Hugh Nevin, Mr Barry Finlay said that his client had been drinking heavily the night before the incident, but he has been abstaining since. Mr Finlay told Judge Hunt that Hugh Nevin has four dependant children.
“He should have thought of that before he met the unfortunate salesman,” said Judge Hunt.
Remarking that both men clearly have difficulties with alcohol, the judge put the matter back to April 23 for a probation report and community service report. He said he wanted the probation report to make particular reference to their alcohol problem in this “bizarre case”.
The judge also ordered both men to address compensation and said that if the injured party can be found it will go to him, and if not the money will go to charity.