Judge Anthony Kennedy handed down suspended sentences to all 65 defendants involved in what has become known as the Dalton Park Riots who appeared at Mullingar Circuit Court sitting in Tullamore this morning (Wednesday February 24).
Defendants had to wait until Judge Kennedy had read through all 65 sentences before he stated that all were suspended, at which time there was an audible gasp of relief from the defendants standing at the back of the court room.
All defendants had pleaded guilty to the charge of Violent Disorder and admitted taking part in a riot at Dalton Park, Mullingar on July 29, 2008.
In his opening statement Judge Kennedy said that he would first of all hear evidence from prosecuting counsel Mr John Hayden before viewing video footage taken on the day. He said that he would then hear from Superintendent John Gantly before retiring to make his decision on sentencing.
Judge Kennedy had ordered that all evidence be submitted ahead of the trial and advised all counsel not to disturb proceedings by pointing out what he described as "anomalies" in data exchanged between prosecution and defence.
"I have already picked those out and no further discussion is needed," he said.
In what emerged as a straightforward proceeding, Judge Kennedy took just half an hour to return with sentences after retiring to consider video evidence at 12 midday.
Before retiring Judge Kennedy took less than five minutes to hand down six-month community service orders to two teenage girls who were involved in the rioting and his ruling after the half hour adjournment took just 10 minutes.
In all the court saw 40 minutes of video footage, some of which taken by Gardaí from the air and some taken from Hugh Nevin's home at 201 Dalton Park which was badly damaged in the incident.
The footage from the house showed a group of defendants gathered a green area in Dalton Park from where they continuously lobbed large stones at the house, some of which were brought in to the estate in a shopping trolley.
Footage showed a woman wheeling the trolley into the middle of rioters for their use.
Mr John Hayden (BL) explained to the court the origins of the feud which he said had started because of a debt allegedly owed by the Nevin family to the McDonaghs. The Dinnegan family had sided with the McDonagh's in the feud, Mr Hayden told the court.
Mr Hayden identified 55-year-old Christy 'Ditsy' Nevin of St Michae's Park in Mullingar as the head of the Nevin family and told the court that he lived at his home with seven of his eight sons. He gave evidence that Christopher Ollie Nevin who lives in England came home during times of trouble "to bulk up numbers". He told the court that members of the McDonagh family had married into the Nevin family and that trouble had ensued from that. Michael Nevin, 47, of 78 St Anthony's Cottages and Michael Nevin, 35, of St Michael's Park Mullingar were identiied as other main players in the riot. He noted that Thomas Nevin, 24, who had become known as the "man who owns Mullingar" was another instigator of the trouble. Mr Hayden was referring to an RTE documentary on the riot during which Mr Nevin had said "we own Mullingar" outside the town's court house. Thomas Nevin's address was given to the court as 13 St Michael's Park Mullingar.
Anthony Dinnegan, 37, whose address was given as Macetown, Cloughan was identified by Mr Hayden as the leader of the Dinnegan family. Superintendent John Gantly told the court that generally the strict bail conditions which had been imposed in August 2008 had been adhered to.
But he said, he "feared for future incidents".
The aforemention Thomas Nevin, Michael Nevin, Christy Ditsy Nevin and the second Michael Nevin were all given four-year suspended sentences. Sean Dinnegan whose address was given as 263 Dalton Park and, James Dinnegan whose address was given as 224 Dalton Park were also given four-year suspended sentences. Anthony Dinngean was also given a four year suspended sentence. The rest of the defendants were given sentences ranging from one to two years.