Two Coolrain men have been given suspended sentences for assaulting the partner of one of the men’s ex-wife, in an incident in which the injured party was dragged out of bed and attacked with a hurl.
Brian Hyland (40) and Declan Hyland (38), both of The Glebe, Coolrain, were charged with assault causing harm, at The Glebe on August 21, 2016.
Portlaoise Circuit Court heard that Declan Hyland was separated from his wife, Ms Louise Carter, who was now living with her new partner in the house two fields away from the Hylands’ family home. An issue arose around her new partner, Mr Dan Sheeran, chastising one of Declan Hyland’s children, but this was investigated and no charges were brought.
Garda Keith Hartnett gave evidence, along with State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly, that on August 21, 2016, the two accused were out fencing when they saw Mr Sheeran’s jeep at the house, so they decided to go over. Both men entered the house and went to the bedroom, where Mr Sheeran and Ms Carter were in bed. They assaulted Mr Sheeran, pulling him out of bed, down the hallway, into the kitchen and outside. He was pushed to the ground and punched, suffering bruises to his face and body and a broken rib. He had bruising to his eyes and chest and a wound to his upper lip. The incident lasted about ten minutes, said Garda Hartnett.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Sheeran said he still finds it hard to sleep and wakes up in cold sweats. He checks the doors three times at night and even locks the bedroom door. He feels very down and depressed and still gets headaches. His farming has suffered and he had to call in a neighbour to help him, having to pay him for the work. He also lost a few clients in his steel erection business as he couldn’t work for a while, and incurred doctor’s bills.
The court heard that the attack was mainly perpetrated by Declan Hyland and it was alleged that a hurl was used. Initially, Brian Hyland claimed he had been out fencing when he became aware of a commotion at the house, so he went over and saw Declan Hyland assaulting Mr Sheeran.
Last December, a Newtown hearing was held in Portlaoise Circuit Court to determine the disputed facts in the case. The outcome was that the court was satisfied that both Hylands went to the house and the assault happened. The day after the hearing, Brian Hyland entered a guilty plea.
Neither man had previous convictions. Garda Hartnett said that they come from a very respectable family.
Defence for Declan Hyland, barrister, Mr Rory Hanniffy said his client had an acrimonious break-up with his wife and she resides in the family home. He said his client accepted that he had caused all the injuries to Mr Sheeran and had €500 compensation in court.
Mr Hanniffy said his client had acted impulsively and was very angry at the time. Mr Sheeran made a statement, in which he admitted giving one of the children a tap on the head with the TV remote.
To this, Judge Keenan Johnson said: “No one should tap another person’s child on the head with a remote control.”
Defence for Brian Hyland, barrister, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick said her client now accepted his involvement in the offence and had the beginning of compensation in court, €1,000.
Asked by gardaí whether he knew Declan was going to assault Mr Sheeran, Brian Hyland replied: “I had an idea, I suppose. He was angry over Dan hitting one of the children.”
Testimonials were handed into court on behalf of the accused, including one from Canon John Lalor.
In ruling, Judge Johnson said there was a highly emotive background to the case. He noted that Declan Hyland’s sense of hurt and anger was compounded when he heard that his wife’s new partner had hit one of the children.
The judge said it was a serious assault which involved the use of a hurl. The injured party tried to dress himself, but was dragged out leaving a trail of blood.
Judge Johnson also said that the way both men had tried to exonerate Brian Hyland was understandable, but unacceptable.
“They were both misguided and the truth will out and it did out at the Newtown hearing,” he said.
Declan Hyland was sentenced to two years in jail, suspended for five years, and Brian Hyland was sentenced to one year, suspended for five years. Conditions of the suspended sentences were that both men enter into a peace bond for five years and pay €2,000 compensation.