Witness gives evidence in trial of pig farmer

Thursday 13 December 2012 20.59
Donal Connaughton and his wife Margaret, seen in the background, are both facing multiple charges
Donal Connaughton and his wife Margaret, seen in the background, are both facing multiple charges

A second prosecution witness has given evidence in the trial of a Longford pig farmer and his wife charged with falsely imprisoning, threatening to kill and assaulting two debt collection agents.

The case before Judge Anthony Hunt at Longford Circuit Court relates to an incident arising from an attempt to repossess an electricity generator at the farm of Donal and Margaret Connaughton, from Elfleet Newtowncashel, Co Longford.

Mr Connaughton faces eight charges, while Ms Connaughton faces six charges.

The two are charged with falsely imprisoning or detaining or restricting the personal liberty of Patrick Mulvey and Justin Tighe without their consent, or without lawful excuse threatening to kill or seriously harm the two men.

They are also charged with assault causing harm to both individuals.

Mr Connaughton faces two further charges of damaging property belonging to Mr Mulvey, namely a JVC satellite navigation unit and a Nokia mobile phone.

In his opening statement, counsel for the prosecution Donal Keane outlined the alleged actions.

He said that on 29 April 2010 at JAC Pigs Ltd, a pig farm enterprise owned by Mr Connaughton, two debt collection agents arrived in their yard to repossess a generator and two power washers.

The court heard that the generator in question provided power for a unit that housed 3,000 of the farmer's 12,000 pigs.

It was stated that the generator was needed to sustain the life of the 3,000 animals.

The court also heard that JAC Pigs Ltd has gone bust since the incident.

Mr Keane said there had been an issue with the repayment of a loan for machinery and that the two named alleged victims had gone to the house to repossess machinery for the outstanding balance of €2,500.

The men were subjected to verbal and physical abuse and they attempted to escape but were prevented from doing so by Mr Connaughton and another man.

Repossession agent Mr Mulvey gave evidence on the opening day of the trial.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Paul Green, Mr Mulvey denied that he had a physical altercation with Mr Connaughton and that he put him to the ground.

The asset recovery agent denied suggestions by Mr Green that Mr Connaughton had only become angry when he saw that his wife's hand had been cut by Mr Mulvey's colleague.

The witness said that his co-worker, Mr Tighe, never got out of the recovery vehicle until forced to do so by the Connaughtons.

Counsel for Ms Connaughton, Pauric Dwyer, put it to Mr Mulvey that his client had not ordered her son and an employee to take his phone off him, the witness replied: "I disagree."

Witness Mr Tighe commenced giving evidence today. He said that in the course of his detention by Mr Connaughton, he was asked if he had ever been to prison.

He said that Mr Connaughton brought a black wild boar into the yard and told him he was going to find out what it was like.

Mr Tighe alleged that Mr Connaughton said: "Go on, be a man, strip naked and get in with the boar."

He said that the accused made him get down on his knees and say the Our Father and that when he came to the part about trespasses he said: "That is what you are doing here today."

Mr Tighe said that he had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder since the incident and was receiving psychiatric counselling.

The trial before a jury of five women and seven men is expected to last five days.