A violent street brawl in which members of various members of the Traveller Community attacked each other with steel bars resulted in three men receiving prison sentences at last week’s circuit court.
CCTV footage played to the court showed a 12-minute affray unfolding outside an apartment complex at College Avenue, Mountmellick, on August 20, 2012, in which two men were knocked unconscious as steel bars and broom-handles were used as weapons.
Arising from the incident, Hugh Nevin, 18 Silverbrook, Mountmellick, was given an 18-month sentence, with the last six months suspended on condition he keep the peace; Anthony Cawley, Derrycloney, Mountmellick, was sentenced to 18 months; and John Paul Nevin, Blackcastle Lodge, Navan, was given a three-month sentence, suspended for six months on condition he enter into a peace bond. All three pleaded to one count of affray.
Garda Tadgh O’Brien gave evidence, led by State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly, that the incident started after an altercation between four men in the corridor of the apartment complex spilled out onto the public road. It was suggested that an issue had arisen concerning an interaction between a Mr Christopher Nevin, and the wives of Hugh Nevin and Anthony Cawley.
“There was a suggestion he was making a nuisance of himself and events got out of hand,” said Garda O’Brien.
Christopher Nevin received significant injuries in the incident, which resulted in his requiring ten staples to his head and suffering minor injuries to his arms and legs.
In the CCTV footage, all three accused were seen brandishing implements as weapons in the street outside the apartment complex, between approximately 3.40am and 3.52am. Cawley was seen striking Christopher Nevin a number of times with a steel bar, and he also struck John Paul Nevin, after John Paul Nevin was seen running at Cawley swinging a steel bar. Both John Paul Nevin and Christopher Nevin were knocked unconscious during the affray. A number of other people were also present, including two young children.
Cawley was also shown brandishing a brush or broom as a weapon, after a Mr Shane Nevin was shown throwing a stall bar over a wall to get rid of it. Hugh Nevin was also seen with a smaller implement, which he at one point threw.
As the incident unfolded the participants alternated between outside on the street and back inside the apartment complex, where there was no CCTV footage. The implements used by the men were identified by Garda O’Brien as six-foot long steel market stall bars.
In interview, Cawley had said there was a disagreement between Christopher Nevin and others on the night, as Mr Nevin was “making a nuisance of himself”.
There was a counter-allegation from Mr Nevin that he was ambushed on the night. Mr Fennelly said there was a considerable amount of drink involved in the incident.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Nevin said that he was in an apartment with his two brothers when there was a knock at the door and he opened it to find Cawley and Hugh Nevin, with their wives. He claimed Cawley threw a bottle at him and they ended up at the bottom of the stairs, where there were steel bars waiting. He said he was hit on the arm and the hip, which left him feeling weak.
“They got me outside and tried to kill me,” he said. “Tony (Cawley) kept hitting me, he hit me on the ground on the chest with a stall bar… I’ve been in fear since, in case he attacks me again. I never had any problems with them in my life.”
He said that his brother, John Paul Nevin came down to try to defend him, and John Paul Nevin hit Cawley to defend Christopher Nevin. In interview, John Paul Nevin told gardaí: “I was saving my brother, Christy.”
Cawley, aged 24, had two previous convictions; 20-yeaHugh Nevi, aged 20; had 20 previous convictions; and John Paul Nevin aged 34 had six previous.
“The CCTV portrays a frightening level of violence, and all of them are armed with significant weapons, steel bars,” said Judge Terence O’Sullivan. “It took place over an extended period of time. It is noticeable that both Anthony Cawley and Hugh Nevin returned to the scene of the action a number of times.”
The judge said that it appeared that a more serious incident was avoided by the actions of Shane Nevin and the women in the video, all of whom are shown trying to intercede.
He said the incident was at the mid to high range of the scale, due to the fact that it was in the presence and in front of children.
The judge accepted that John Paul Nevin got involved to protect his brother, Christopher, which meant his part was “more justified by more noble concerns”. The judge imposed a three-month sentence, suspended for six months.
Judge O’Sullivan said that Cawley and Hugh Nevin were the principal participants. He said it was an extraordinarily vicious row and Cawley had no form of good character. Remarking that Cawley deserved a three-year sentence, the judge ruled that in light of his guilty plea and cooperation with the gardaí he would receive an 18-month sentence.
Judge O’Sullivan said that both Cawley and Hugh Nevin had struck out at Christopher Nevin while he was lying prone on the ground. He said that Hugh Nevin was “so hyped up with aggression” he danced at one point in the video, and described him as a violent man.
“He doesn’t come before the court with any class of good record,” said Judge O’Sullivan. “I’m trying to keep a certain amount of order in society, there has to be an element of deterrence in sentencing.”
He imposed an 18-month sentence, with the last six months suspended on condition Hugh Nevin keep the peace and be of good behaviour.