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Judge calls for end to Longford gang feud as he jails teenager for five years

The judge said the feud had its genesis in “trivial” matters.

Armed gardaí on the streets of Longford.
Armed gardaí on the streets of Longford.
Image: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

A JUDGE HAS described an ongoing feud between a number of families which has resulted in a series of threats and assaults over the past year as “a blight on the landscape of Longford”.

Judge Keenan Johnson called on senior family members to bring an end to the feuding before future generations of their relatives would also suffer.

“The legacy you are bequeathing to your children and grandchildren will bring nothing but grief and hardship,” Judge Johnson said.

He noted that the feud had its genesis in “trivial” matters.

The judge made his remarks as he sentenced a member of one of the families to five years in prison with three years suspended for assaulting an innocent member of another family involved in the feud with a knife.

Mullingar Circuit Criminal Court heard William McDonnell (18) of College Park, Longford had assaulted Martin Nolan with a carpet knife outside the victim’s home at Springlawn, Longford after he intervened in a row between the accused and Mr Nolan’s two nephews on February 7, 2018.

The court heard the victims had required 30 stitches for a wound to his face.

“It is wholly unacceptable to go around carrying a knife in a civilised society,” the judge remarked.

The court heard that Nolan was also the subject of fake Facebook accounts which has been created that branded him as “Scarface” and “Freddy Krueger” which also contained threats to burn his family home.

Judge Johnson urged Mr Nolan to make a formal complaint to gardaí about such social media content, although he acknowledged that there was no evidence linking the accused to the threats contained in them.

The court heard Mr Nolan was no longer interested in sport and hated having his photo taken.

In a victim impact statement, he claimed he had begun to drink more to block out the memory of what had happened and was also taking anti-depressants.

Judge Johnson also called on the State to set up a proper compensation scheme for victims of crime like Mr Nolan whom he said were not being adequately compensated for the injuries they suffered.

The judge said such a scheme could be established with “a bit of innovative thinking” and suggested it could be funded through a combination of National Lottery funds and court fines.

Sentencing McDonnell to consecutive prison terms of three years and two years on charges of assault causing harm with the final three years suspended, Judge Johnson said he had shown a cavalier approach to the rule of law and had originally tried to implicate his younger brother as being responsible for the assault.

The court heard that McDonnell was on bail at the time of the assault for similar offences.

The judge said he had offered no apology or remorse until asked by the court and had then provided “a very hollow” one.

He also noted that McDonnell had originally tried to claim that the victim also had a knife.

The judge stressed that Mr Nolan had no history of involvement in the feud.

Judge Johnson said he would suspend three of the five years of the prison sentence on condition that McDonnell did not return to live in Longford on his release from prison apart from being allowed to reside with his sister in Newtownforbes, Co Longford and to be bound to the peace for a period of seven years.

He was also ordered McDonnell to have no contact with his victim or the victim’s immediate family and to abstain from alcohol and drugs during the suspended period of his sentence.

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Seán McCárthaigh

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