Hanratty Gets, Three Years, in Jail, for the Savage Assault, on Martin Mc Allister?

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Millionaire businessman jailed for three years for unprovoked assault on neighbour 10 years ago 

9th November 2022

A farmer has been jailed for three years for a brutal and “premeditated” assault on his neighbour in Monaghan 10 years ago.

Eugene Hanratty Snr (63) of Castleblayney Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh was convicted by a jury following a trial last month. He had pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm at Castleblayney, Co Monaghan on November 24, 2012.

Detective Garda Paul Everard told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that on the Saturday afternoon of the attack, Martin McAllister and his wife were driving at 4.20pm in Castleblayney on their way to Crossmaglen when a vehicle approached with its full headlights on.

Mr McAllister told the trial that he felt his path was blocked by the other vehicle and he couldn’t drive past it. He then recognised the occupants of the car as Eugene Hanratty Snr and his son, Eugene Jnr.

The defendant got out of his car and began to assault Mr McAllister in his vehicle, the trial heard. The victim said Hanratty Snr punched him a number of times in the head, pulled him down by the hair and kicked him before the defendant dragged him out of the vehicle.

Mr McAlister told the trial that the assault continued outside the car, with Hanratty Snr kicking him while he was on the ground. His right arm was stamped on and he went in and out of consciousness.

He testified that Hanratty Snr was aware he was a musician so he felt the stamping on his arm was significant in this regard.

Det-Gda Everard said that the victim’s wife, Mary McAllister, told the jury that it was a sustained attack while her husband was both inside the car and out of the car.

She described asking Hanratty Snr to stop because she was concerned her husband would die from injuries sustained in the attack. The trial heard that Mr Hanratty Jnr also asked his father to stop attacking the man.

The victim suffered multiple broken bones in his face, both his eye sockets were broken and he has been left with the permanent loss of his peripheral vision. He has been treated numerous times but without success and the loss of his peripheral vision “impinges on my everyday life”.

Speaking outside the courthouse after the sentence, Mr McAllister said he believed the attack happened because he had “stood against the dumping of diesel sludge”.

Sentencing earlier, Judge Melanie Greally said the jury rejected Hanratty Snr’s defence of justified use of force which maintained that the violence arose as a result of a physical altercation following a dispute in relation to duck shooting rights on local lands.

The judge said the court was sentencing Hanratty Snr on the basis of having no information of any long-standing history between the parties and treating the assault as unprovoked and pre-meditated.

She said the aggravating factors included pre-meditation, the severity and brutality of the violence, the fact that most of the blows, including kicks, were directed at the victim’s head and face and the fact that Hanratty stamped on the victim’s arm knowing that he is a musician.

The judge said she also took into consideration the adverse effects of the assault on the quality of life of the victim and his family, and the fact that the assault was carried out in front of the man’s wife.

She set a headline sentence of five years, which is the maximum penalty for the offence.

The judge  noted as mitigating factors Hanratty Snr’s lack of any recent convictions and that this type of “extreme violence” was entirely out of character. She noted his otherwise good character and his positive contributions to his family and his community, describing him as a hard-working, “hands-on” farmer.

Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, had earlier submitted that his client was “a pillar of the community” who contributed to local community activities including the church and the GAA. He said while his client does not accept fully the jury verdict, he does accept he did act and used excessive violence on the day.

The judge said there was no tangible expressions of remorse from the defendant, “not even a suggestion of an apology for the injuries he has caused”. But she said she accepted that his imprisonment would have a severe impact on his family and would be a source of shame and humiliation for him and his family.

She also noted that a prison sentence for someone of his age and standing is particularly difficult and noted his mental health difficulties as set out in a psychological report.

Taking all these mitigating factors into consideration, she set a sentence of four years and suspended the final year on condition that he have no contact with Mr McAllister or his family for the next decade.

The conviction last month came after the third trial in the case. The first trial resulted in a disagreement and the jury couldn’t reach a verdict and the second trial collapsed after the jury was discharged. Last October the jury unanimously convicted Hanratty Snr following one hour of deliberation.

Hanratty Snr, whose company sponsors Crossmaglen Rangers GAA club, has two previous convictions, one for assaulting a garda in 1989 and one for criminal damage in 1997, the court heard. He has not come to Garda attention since the 2012 assault.

The defendant was previously accused of cross-border fuel smuggling and had €2m in 12 bank accounts frozen by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB). He denied these claims.

When this case came to court in 2007 the judge was told a confidential settlement had been reached between the CAB and Hanratty Snr.

In October 2016, ajury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court acquitted Mr Hanratty Jnr (41) of Dundalk Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh of assaulting Mr McAllister causing him harm. It was the State’s case that he had not taken part in the physical beating but he was charged on the basis of joint enterprise.

Speaking outside the courthouse after the sentence, Mr McAllister said he believed the attack happened because he had “stood against the dumping of diesel sludge”.

“South Armagh in particular and the Monaghan-Louth border, it’s been a scourge there. This runs into the rivers, runs into the lake at home, and I was not happy about so I spoke out about it. Be in no doubt about it, that’s the reason”.

 “I’m feeling relieved that this is over. It’s all over for my wife. I may have suffered physical injuries;  my wife suffered terribly from watching it. My wife has worked in the casualty for 35 years and there’s nothing she hasn’t seen.

“There’s a fear factor, there’s an omerta where I live and you will not get people to comment openly. People are still afraid.

“The significance is that you can no longer get away with intimidating people, with bullying people. This man is a huge bully but like all bullies at the end of the day he’s a coward. What he done on me was very easily done. He blocked me on my own lane; I don’t know what I was hit with on the side of my head.

“I still have a difficulty in my left eye, that type of freezing feeling when you come out of the dentist. I have a titanium implant which helps it a bit. I’ll move on. I have never rolled over for somebody in my life.”

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