Roscommon eviction jury resumes deliberations today

THE jury has begun deliberations the trial of four men accused of taking part in a vigilante group attack on men guarding a repossessed farmhouse five years ago.

At around 5am on December 16, 2018, a group of approximately 30 armed men smashed their way into a house at a recently repossessed rural property at Falsk, just outside Strokestown, Co Roscommon. They were armed with weapons, including a baseball bat, a meat cleaver, a hurley, a stick with nails in it, and a chain saw and attacked the men who were present guarding the property.

Patrick J Sweeney (44) of High Cairn, Ramelton, Co Donegal; Martin O’Toole (58) of Stripe, Irishtown, Claremorris, Co Mayo; Paul Beirne (56) of Croghan, Boyle, Co Roscommon and David Lawlor (43) of Bailis Downs, Navan, Co Meath have pleaded not guilty to 17 charges each at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.


Each defendant is charged with false imprisonment and assault causing harm to four security personnel, aggravated burglary, arson of four vehicles which were set alight, criminal damage to the front door of the house, violent disorder, robbery of a wristwatch from one security guard and finally, causing unnecessary suffering to an animal by causing or permitting an animal to be struck on the head.

Judge Martina Baxter sent the jury out to begin deliberations just after 1.30pm having told the jury that any verdict it returns must be a unanimous one

The jury deliberated for a little over two hours before Judge Baxter sent it home to resume deliberations today (Friday).

Earlier she gave a number of legal directions in addition to the directions she had given the jury earlier in the week. She told jurors that in terms of voice recognition evidence they must decide that the witness did not concoct or distort his evidence to his advantage or to the disadvantage of a defendant and that his evidence was not activated by any malice.

She said they should bear that in mind in the context of the background between the complainant Ian Gordon and defendant Mr Lawlor. Mr Gordon testified that he recognised Mr Lawlor’s voice on the night and that he and Mr Lawlor had met a number of times before and that Mr Lawlor had variously called him “an Orange bastard” and a Loyalist paramilitary.

Judge Baxter previously told jurors that in considering the case against each of the accused, they must consider if each was present and if they were, whether each was present as a spectator or to aid and abet the crimes that took place.

She told jurors that if they had a doubt it should be exercised in the favour of the defendants.


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