No Bail, for Munnelly? Babs Connolly was very well Respected in his Community?

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Accused in Athlone stag party assault death case is refused bail – 1h ago

18th August 2022

A MAN accused of attacking Paul “Babs” Connolly, who was knocked unconscious and died while on a stag night in Athlone, has been refused bail.

Mr Connolly, 48, from Edenderry, Co. Offaly, was seriously injured on Church Street in the Co. Westmeath town in the early hours of Saturday.

Gardaí have charged Sean Munnelly, 35, of Irishtown, Athlone and David Higgins, 18, of St Paul’s Terrace, Athlone, with assault causing harm to the deceased and engaging in violent disorder. Directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) are being sought.

Following a hearing on Sunday, hardware store employee Higgins was granted €5,000 bail.

However, Munnelly reserved his bail application until today when the case resumed at Mullingar District Court.

Citing the seriousness of the case and flight risk concerns, Detective Sergeant Kevin Craig objected to bail.

He told Judge Alan Mitchell it was alleged Munnelly assaulted Connolly on Church Street. The deceased had attempted to leave the street and return to his hotel, but Mr Munnelly allegedly followed and assaulted him.

The contested bail hearing was told Connolly “did not have an opportunity to defend himself” before he went to the ground and “never regained consciousness”.

Questioned by defence barrister Niall Flynn, the detective sergeant agreed that the co-accused was released on bail.

He accepted it was the State’s case that another person interacted first with Connolly, who received blows and kicks.

The court heard he was standing with his hands at his side and an “unprovoked attack” caused him to fall.

Gardai have harvested CCTV footage from the vicinity, the court heard. However, a pathology report has not yet been completed.

Munnelly had €1,400 on him when later arrested and €90,000 in the bank. However, the officer agreed the accused had ties to the community.

His mother, a sibling and his pregnant partner were present for the hearing.

Pleading for bail, Flynn described the case as tragic. However, he argued there was no evidence his client was a flight risk or would engage in witness intimidation. He told Judge Mitchell that Munnelly, who appeared via a prison video link, would obey “strict” bail terms.

He said his client had the presumption of innocence. Flynn suggested the court could order him to sign on twice daily at a garda station, live with his mother in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, surrender his passport and stay out of Athlone, and not go within a five or 10-mile radius of the town.

However, Judge Mitchell refused bail and remanded him in custody to appear again at the same court on 1 September.

Munnelly, who is unemployed and has been granted legal aid, spoke only to confirm he could see and hear the proceedings.

The co-defendant, Higgins, has taken up his bail, which the court set on Sunday in his bond of €2,500 with a €2,500 independent surety.

Today Judge Mitchell remanded him on continuing bail to appear at Athlone District Court on October 5 for directions from the DPP to be obtained.

Judge Mitchell had held the State had not reached the threshold to deny the teen bail, but he noted the seriousness of the incident.

He has warned Mr Higgins to obey “stringent” conditions: sign on daily at his local garda station, obey a 10 pm – 6 am curfew, have no contact with witnesses, surrender his passport and travel documents and not apply for new ones, reside at his current address and remain contactable by mobile phone.

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