Two appear in court on assault charges

Two men appeared in Mullingar District Court last night (Sunday) in relation to an incident in Athlone over the weekend in which a man lost his life.

Sean Munnelly (35), with an address at Irishtown, Athlone, is charged with assault causing harm to Paul Connolly and with engaging in violent disorder at Church St, Athlone, on August 13.

David Higgins (18), with an address at St Paul's Terrace, Athlone, is also charged with assault causing harm to Paul Connolly and with engaging in violent disorder at Church St, Athlone, on August 13.

Det Sgt Kevin Craig gave evidence of arresting and charging Sean Munnelly this evening. He said the defendant gave no reply when charged.

Inspector Paul McNally, for the State, applied for the defendant to be remanded in custody. Defence solicitor Owen Carty said there was no defence application at this time for bail.

Judge Alan Mitchell then remanded the defendant in custody to appear via videolink at Mullingar District Court this Thursday, August 18.

Mr Carty applied for legal aid, stating that his client was in receipt of a social welfare payment.

Det Sgt Craig also gave evidence of arresting and charging David Higgins this evening. He said the defendant gave no reply.

Gardai objected to a bail application by defence solicitor Michael Cooney, with Det Sgt Craig citing the seriousness of the offence.

It was alleged the deceased was injured during an "unprovoked assault". The court heard he was knocked unconscious and later died.

Det Sgt Craig told Judge Mitchell that Mr Connolly suffered “punches and kicks” during the alleged attack which was captured on CCTV.

The Detective Sergeant agreed it was alleged the incident had two sections, “minutes apart” and it was during the second phase that Mr Connolly was knocked unconscious.

He accepted that it was alleged that Mr Higgins was involved in the earlier part of the incident.

Mr Cooney said his client was in employment at a local hardware store in Athlone. He is not a native of Athlone but is living with his grandfather in Athlone.

The court was told the two defendants did not know each other.

Judge Alan Mitchell granted bail to Mr Higgins on his own surety of €2,500 and an independent surety of €2,500.

He said he noted the seriousness of the matter and the evidence of the Gardai but said the State had failed to meet the threshold and the criteria to have bail refused.

The judge said he would impose "stringent" bail conditions.

These included that he commit no offences and be of good behaviour, that he sign on daily between 9am and 9pm at Athlone Garda Station, that he remain at the address at St Paul's Terrace between the hours of 10pm and 6am daily, that he surrender his passport and National ID card to Gardai, to have no contact with witnesses, and that he provide a mobile phone number that he could be contacted on by Gardai on a 24-hour basis.

The defendant was then remanded in custody with consent to bail to appear again on Thursday, August 18, at Mullingar District Court.

An independent surety was approved by the court for Mr Higgins and Judge Mitchell told the defendant that in the event he was released on bail ahead of the court sitting on Thursday, he was expected to appear in person. Otherwise, he would be before the court on videolink.