TWO brothers were sentenced to a combined total of four years imprisonment for their part in a hatchet attack on a Sligo man in broad daylight in Castlebar.
Mark Maughan (25) and his younger brother Jack (19) were both jailed for two years for attacking Michael Sweeney with a hatchet in Heatons store in Castlebar on November 7, 2009. Jack Maughan of the Caravan Site, Moneen, Castlebar, who was 17 at the time was one of a group of ten men who pursued Mr Sweeney into the shop on a busy Saturday afternoon and struck him twice in the head with the hatchet.
Last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Court heard that the Maughan family from Castlebar and the Sweeney family from Ballinrobe were involved in an ongoing feud which was claimed was the reason for the attack.
However, Mr Sweeney told gardaí that while he is related to the Sweeneys, he lives in Sligo and was not involved in any feud.
Garda Ray Guilfoyle explained that on the morning of the attack, Mr Sweeney and a friend were in Castlebar and went into the bookies. While he was there, he was approached by Jack Maughan who called him a ‘Sweeney bastard’ and said he was going to kill him.
When the victim left the bookies he was followed by Mr Maughan who shouted that he was going to kill him. Mr Sweeney went into Heatons to buy a golf club to play pitch and putt and as they left the shop he was assaulted by a group including the two Maughans.
The court then heard how Jack Maughan came at him swinging a hatchet and struck Mr Sweeney twice in the head and in the back. Mark Maughan also bit him on the cheek.
During the attack, Jack Maughan kept saying he was going to kill him and they only left when security guards stepped in.
The court was told that Mark Maughan had been in the nearby Irish House Pub celebrating his child’s christening when he left it to take part in the attack.
Mr Sweeney suffered head injuries as a result of the attack and received 20 staples to the wounds on his head. In a victim impact statement he said he did not go looking for trouble and is nervous in big crowds and can’t go into Castlebar.
Mark Maughan has four previous convictions including one for violent disorder and the day before the court he was sentenced to three months for burglary, while Jack has no previous convictions.
Mr John Hogan, counsel for Jack Maughan said the attack had been a result of a family feud which the Maughan family have since tried to rectify. He produced a letter from the Mayo Traveller Support Group who were approached by the Maughan family to seek mediation with the Sweeneys but said that Michael Sweeney declined to participate.
He said his client was remorseful for what he did and apologised to Mr Sweeney and asked that he not be given a custodial sentence.
Mr Diarmuid Connolly, counsel for Mark Maughan added his client was also remorseful and asked the judge to be lenient.
Judge Thomas E O’Donnell felt the letter seeking mediation was disingenuous because it was dated December 2011 when the event took place in 2009. He said the attack had a serious affect on Mr Sweeney and felt a custodial sentence was appropriate.
He sentenced Mark Maughan to two years imprisonment with the final eight months suspended on the condition he is of good behaviour for two years post release and has no contact with the victim or his family. Jack Maughan was also sentenced to two years but had the final 12 months suspended on the same condition.