Limerick man found guilty of assaulting uncle in family dispute over land

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

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donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

Limerick man found guilty of assaulting uncle in family dispute over land

Wesley Ryan had pleaded not guilty

A LONG-RUNNING family dispute over land and a will was the background to a nephew punching his uncle, Kilmallock Court heard.

Wesley Ryan, aged 32, of Boskill, Caherconlish pleaded not guilty to assault at the same address on August 6, 2017.

Tadhg Ryan, who is Wesley Ryan’s uncle, said on that date he, his brother Patrick and Tadhg Ryan’s son went up checking horses in Boskill.

“It’s a farm - 38 acres. We drove in to see the horses. Wesley Ryan came over with his jeep. He was driving erratically and chasing us. He drove at us. My young fellow, who was 12, was crying with the fright. We drove to the gate. Our priority was to get him out of danger,” said Tadhg Ryan. The jeep, being driven by Patrick Ryan, stopped in the middle of the entrance.

“I got out and phoned the police. Wesley Ryan got out and started using abusive language. He threatened to kill my brother. He pulled the gate off the pier. He tried to attach the gate to his jeep. I went to try and get the gate back. He had tied it to his hitch.

“There was pulling and a struggle. He hit me right in the chest. I left the gate go. He fell back,” said Tadhg Ryan, who added that Wesley Ryan’s mother came out with bottles of beer and pizza while they waited for the guards.

“The guards made him put the gate back up and we’re here today,” said Tadhg Ryan. The complainant said that Wesley Ryan said to him, “You’re only a boy, not a man, hit me”.

Liam Carroll, barrister for Wesley Ryan, asked Tadhg Ryan about the land in Boskill.

“It was left to me by my father. My sister brought my father up to a solicitor a week before he died and he changed his will. He wasn’t in his right mind,” said Tadhg Ryan.

Mr Carroll put it to him that his client will say he is subjected to continued harassment by Tadhg Ryan.

“Are you for real?” said Tadhg Ryan, who was warned by Judge Marian O’Leary about his comments.

Mr Carroll asked why they stopped at the gate and would it not have been “wiser to keep going”?

“He drove at us,” said Tadhg Ryan.

“You wanted to keep him there until the guards came?” asked Mr Carroll.

“Yes,” said Tadhg Ryan.

Mr Carroll asked Tadhg Ryan with which hand did Wesley Ryan punch him?

“I don’t know. I got a belt, left I think,” said Tadhg Ryan.

Sergeant Michelle Leahy asked Tadhg Ryan how many exits are in the field.

“Three,” said Tadhg Ryan.

The investigating garda, John Cotter said Tadhg Ryan’s version of events were backed up by his partner Rita and his brother Patrick.

“Wesley Ryan gave a cautioned statement and his version of events were backed up by a French national who was with him,” said Garda Cotter. All three witnesses gave evidence in Kilmallock Court.

Wesley Ryan said he has a riding school. On the day, he said he and the French national were checking his horses in the field to see if they were OK.

“As I was driving out they reversed the jeep to not let me out. I sat in the jeep waiting for them to move,” said Wesley Ryan. He added that “it didn’t make any sense to take off the gate because my horses were in the field”.

“I’ve made numerous statements to the gardai about them. They said it was a civil matter,” said Wesley Ryan. The defendant said he regrets the words exchanged but denies carrying out a physical attack.

“I felt trapped. I wanted to get out. I was offered an adult caution by the gardai but I refused to take it. I didn’t do it,” said Wesley Ryan.

Sgt Leahy asked Wesley Ryan why he didn’t use other exits?

“I didn’t think of it,” said Mr Ryan.

Sgt Leahy asked if he could have driven out by Tadhg and Patrick Ryan’s jeep after he took down the gate?

“No,” said Wesley Ryan.

Mr Carroll made a number of submissions and applied for the case to be struck out.

He said there were a number of inconsistencies in the prosecution case and a “lack of any independent evidence”.

Mr Carroll said even if there was a punch, which Wesley Ryan denies, it would be justifiable from a legal point of view as his client was “unlawfully detained”.

“This is a family dispute going on over a long time. The guards have been called on numerous occasions,” said Mr Carroll.

Sgt Leahy said a person can’t be unlawfully detained if there are alternative exits.

She said the French national isn’t independent and there are three witnesses on the prosecution side that say Wesley Ryan assaulted Tadhg Ryan.

Judge Marian O’Leary said she had listened very carefully to all the evidence.

“On the basis of the evidence I find the defendant guilty,” said Judge O’Leary.

Mr Carroll said Wesley Ryan has no previous convictions and is “of good character”.

Judge O’Leary said she would strike the assault charge out if Wesley Ryan paid €400 to the court poor box. After Mr Carroll and Wesley Ryan consulted the order was vacated as it would take longer to appeal the judge’s decision. Judge O’Leary convicted and fined Wesley Ryan €400.

Recognisance was fixed and appeal papers were lodged by Mr Carroll in Kilmallock Court on behalf of his client.