A Navan man is one of four people on trial for an incident in which security guards protecting a house that had been repossessed by the banks were assaulted and an Alsatian dog beaten so badly it had to be put down.
David Lawlor, (above), (43) from Bailis Downs is charged along with Patrick 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 all four have pleaded not guilty to a total of 53 charges.
Each man is separately charged with false imprisonment of and assault causing harm to Ian Gordon, Mark Rissen, John Graham, and Gary McCourtney at Falsk, Strokestown on December 16th, 2018.
Each is also charged with aggravated burglary, as well as four charges of arson in relation to a car and three vans which were allegedly set alight.
The four are also each charged with criminal damage to a door of a house, to violent disorder, to robbery of a wristwatch from John Graham and, finally, to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal by causing or permitting an animal to be struck on the head.
Each defendant stood in court to hear the charges put to them and pleaded not guilty to the 17 counts.
The owner of the property, Anthony McGann, lived there with two siblings and on December 11th, 2018 they were forcibly removed by persons engaged on behalf of the bank.
A prosecution lawyer told the jury court that this was a source of distress for the McGanns and for the wider community and was the subject of some publicity, both local and further afield.
Counsel told the jury that a number of security personnel, including the four named complainants, were charged by the bank with guarding the property. These security guards would stay at the house, sleeping and keeping watch in shifts.
At around 5am on December 16th, a group of around 20 to 30 people arrived at the property in a truck or a lorry. Armed with pick-axes, chain saws, meat cleavers, baseball bats and sticks or hurleys, this group allegedly forced their way into the house, counsel said
It was said the evidence would be that some of the group were wearing balaclavas, some had scarves over their mouths and a number appeared to be wearing yellow fluorescent jackets.
The security guards were forced to the ground, had their shoes removed, their hands tied with cable ties and were seriously assaulted, counsel said. Windows and doors were smashed in the house and a German Shepherd guard dog was beaten into a state of unconsciousness and was later put down.
A jury was empanelled at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday morning and the trial opened before Judge Martin Baxter in the afternoon. It is scheduled to run for five weeks.