Fermanagh man pleads guilty to assault of Mannok directors

Mar 11, 2021 15:04 By News Northern Sound
Fermanagh man pleads guilty to assault of Mannok directors
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A medal-winning Fermanagh boxer has pleaded guilty to assaulting two senior local businessmen at a local filling station in what was described a “misguided

A medal-winning Fermanagh boxer has pleaded guilty to assaulting two senior local businessmen at a local filling station in what was described a “misguided and unjustified” attack inspired following the sacking of his dad.

James Bernard McGovern (24) appeared before Judge John Aylmer at Cavan Circuit Court this morning (Thursday) where he was arraigned on charges of attacking Kevin Lunney and Dara O'Reilly, causing them harm, at the Apple Green Service Station café, Rakeelan, near Ballyconnell, on February 1, 2019.

Mr Lunney is the chief operating officer at Mannok, formerly Quinn Industrial Holdings, which has manufacturing operations on both sides of the border.


Mr O'Reilly is chief financial officer at the same enterprise. Neither of the men were present in court.

McGovern, with an address at Springtown Road, Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, grinned at reporters and camera crews outside, as he entered Cavan courthouse via a side door entrance. Moments earlier the defendant had hugged both his parents- Sean and Teresa- outside.

He potentially faces up to five years imprisonment upon conviction for assault causing harm.


He first appeared before the courts after arrest on foot of a warrant executed at Cavan District Court in early June 2020.

He was subsequently remanded in custody at Castlerea prison and spent almost five-months behind bars before successfully applying for High Court bail late last year.

McGovern- dressed in a navy suit jacket, shirt, tie and trousers- was represented by Karl Monaghan BL, instructed by John M. Quinn solicitors in Dublin.


When arraigned, he stated “I am guilty” to the charge of assault causing harm to Mr Lunney.

But the defendant, also known as Bernard McGovern, pleaded "Not guilty" to assault causing harm to Mr O'Reilly.

Instead, the defendant pleaded "Guilty" to a lesser charge, of assault contrary to Section 2 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act. The court was informed this plea was acceptable to the Director of Public Prosecution.


Evidence in relation to the two assaults was provided by Sergeant James McDevitt, with further details from statements taken outlined by prosecutor Monica Lawlor BL, instructed by State solicitor Rory Hayden.

The court heard that the attacks occurred just days after McGovern's father Sean had his employment as a truck driver with Quinn Industrial Holdings terminated.

In a statement given to gardaí by Mr Lunney he said that he had attended the local filling station with Mr O'Reilly on their lunchbreak, as they did most days. At the table next to where they sat was the defendant. Mr Lunney knew who he was, that McGovern boxed competitively, that he lived in Kinawley, and that he had attended St Aiden's High School in Derrylin.


McGovern got up from his table before returning a short time later when he threw a cup of hot water in Mr O'Reilly's face and proceeded to punch Mr Lunney in the face up to eight times, injuring his eye and fracturing his nose.

Despite the best efforts of other customers present to restrain McGovern, he escaped from the cafe area via an attached barber shop before making his way to his brother's business next door.

Mr Lunney later underwent surgery for the broken nose, under general anesthetic, at Altnagelvin Hospital.

As a result of the force of the punches received, Mr Lunney received potentially lasting damage to his right eye.

The businessman also told gardaí how the incident had caused upset to his wife and children, the latter of whom feared what the attack meant for their father.

Mr O'Reilly informed gardaí that he had issued a letter of termination to the defendant's father, Sean McGovern, on January 30, 2019, just days before the attack at the filling station.

He was made aware that Mr McGovern's son Bernard was sitting next to them by Mr Lunney.

He recalled having what he believed to be a cup of tea thrown in his face, adding that he had been lucky he was wearing glasses because they protected his eyes.

Afterwards, Mr O'Reilly continued to suffer stinging to his face, but did not seek further medical attention.

Neither men provided a victim impact statement to the court. However two short statements on behalf of the men were read by Sgt McDevitt.

Mr Lunney said the attack had been “very painful” for him and “extremely upsetting” for his family.

He said their “only desire” now is to ensure the “law is upheld and this type of behaviour is stopped”.

“I wish to move on from this incident and leave the matter in the hands of the Court. I bear Mr McGovern no ill will.”

In his brief statement, while he was “in shock and upset” at the time of the attack, Mr O'Reilly wanted to put the incident behind him and “get on with my life.”

He added that he hoped if the court saw fit McGovern would “get on with his life too in a socially positive manner.”

CCTV footage of the attack was shown to the judge.

It was shown a second time to clear up a question of whether McGovern had applied milk to the cup of hot tea he had thrown, thus cooling it down. It was commented that the defendant had only moved a milk jug, but had taken a sip before using the drink to assault Mr O'Reilly.

Mr Monaghan, acting for the defence, said his client was remorseful for his actions.

It was opened to the court that McGovern had been suffering with depression at the time.

The barrister said that McGovern had been of previous good character prior to the attack, and that he had an excellent work history with several positive references provided to the judge.

Mr Monaghan acknowledged McMcGovern's that the attack was in some way inspired by his father losing his job at QIH, but this had been a “misguided and unjustified reaction to that.”

It was stated to the court for clarity that McGovern had no involvement in incidents regarding Mr Lunney that occurred in September 2019.

Legal aid was granted to McGovern in the District Court.

Judge John Alymer remanded McGovern on continuing bail, with sentencing adjourned until next week, Friday, March 19.

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