A Fermanagh man has been convicted of harassing Mannok director Kevin Lunney.
63 year old Sean McGovern of Springtown Road, Kinawley was found guilty following a contested hearing at Enniskillen Magistrates Court.
He's the father of Bernard McGovern who is currently serving a sentence in Castlerea Prison for a separate incident against two directors, one of whom was Mr Lunney.
Sean McGovern denied harassing Kevin Lunney, his wife Bronagh, and fellow directors Liam McCaffrey and Tony Lunney, between 30 October and 20 December 2020.
Liam McCaffrey described it as “an ongoing campaign of harassment taking many forms including social media and more direct physical abuse.”
He referred to the kidnap and torture of Kevin Lunney, but said that after a period of relative calm, claims of victimisation emerged around Bernard McGovern’s detention in Castlerea Prison ahead of trial for a separate attack.
He was later released on bail and on returning to court admitted the charges of assaulting Kevin Lunney and another director for which he is serving a jail sentence.
Mr McCaffrey told the court that “signs were erected naming a list of people, including me. It was deliberate targeting. There were attempts to ramp up tension in the community and I felt it appropriate to bring it to police attention. I felt unsafe and in fear.”
Kevin Lunney also spoke of posters appearing around Derrylin and close to his home, naming him, his wife and other family members.
He said “these posters were very intimidating, they were intended to make me and my family uneasy. They appeared around the time of my abduction and torture and I was very concerned. A pattern was developing against my family.”
He described a poster with Bernard McGovern’s picture with ‘VICTIMISED’ written across it.
Mr Lunney advised, “I’m aware of Bernard as the son of Sean McGovern, whom I’ve known for around 20 years. Bernard was jailed for an assault on myself and a co-director in 2019.”
Mr Lunney’s wife Bronagh told the court her name was on a poster and, “My husband and others were named as well. The business has nothing to do with me. I couldn’t understand why my name was attached to something I had no involvement in.”
She described a sign stating ‘Free Bernard McGovern’ placed on a pole near her home.”
Tony Lunney observed a sign asking who had most to gain around “sabotaging”. His name was written at the top with the other directors.
“I felt very intimidated and concerned. My wife and children travel that area and I was worried about them seeing it, especially with my name on it.”
He also recognised McGovern’s car and a trailer parked containing posters with ‘VICTIMISED’ written on them.
A police officer explained McGovern was given the opportunity to attend voluntarily which he declined and was subsequently arrested.
Giving evidence McGovern confirmed he owned the posters and erected them because: “My youngest son Bernard was remanded and couldn’t get bail. It was a campaign against that. My son is the victim. They (Lunney’s) used my son to do work which was illegal.”
Under-cross examination he accepted Kevin Lunney had seen him up a ladder but denied the poster would cause upset, stating, “Why would it affect him? I put posters in my area along the public highway.”
The prosecution put it to McGovern, “No reasonable person would put up a poster in respect of Kevin Lunney who was at the time the alleged victim of a serious assault by your son. You were upset and annoyed and those posters were to harass and intimidate the victim.”
“That’s totally incorrect,” said McGovern. “We treat people with respect and they get respect. There was no harassment or intimidation.”
But Judge Keown said: “The details and background of this matter are well-known. TI have no hesitation in finding the defendant erected posters along the route taken by Kevin Lunney showing the person accused of assaulting him. It is clear and obvious this was harassment.”
He acquitted McGovern of harassing the three others but was nonetheless satisfied Restraining Orders were required for all including Kevin Lunney which will run for two years.
McGovern waived his right to a pre-sentence report and Judge Keown handed down a term of four months custody suspended for two years.