Two Newport men who brought another man to a remote bog, ordered him to strip naked, hit him and threw him into the bog received an 18 month suspended prison sentence at last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Court.
Brian O’Grady of Carrowsallagh, Newport, and Christopher Dyra of Mullane, Newport, had both pleaded guilty to coercion at Castlebar Circuit Court after admitting taking Damian Murray of Skirdagh, Newport, to a remote bog outside Newport where he was punched and thrown naked into the bog.
The three men were all friends and all went to college in Galway. The two defendants claimed they they carried out the attack in retribution, as they believed Mr Murray had raped a girl, who was also a friend of theirs.
On May 27, 2011, Mr Murray was picked up by the two defendants in Newport and while they were driving out the Glenhest Road, they started asking him what happened the previous Tuesday, saying ‘you raped her, didn’t you’. Murray denied this allegation.
Mr O’Grady was a passenger in the car, and he was accused by Murray of hitting him ‘two or three times’ in the face causing his nose to bleed.
Giving evidence previously, Murray stated that the defendants took him down a ‘dirty, bog road’ with no houses, and told him to take off his clothes. He said he was completely naked when the car came to a stop and he was taken from the car and was thrown ‘into the sh*te and the turf beside the car’.
After leaving him naked in the bog for ten to fifteen minutes, the two men returned and drove him back to Newport.
Evidence in the case was heard last July, when the two men had initially pleaded not guilty to several counts of assault and a single count each of false imprisonment. They later pleaded guilty to coercion.
The matter was adjourned until last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Court, where it was revealed that Mr Murray has since emigrated to Australia.
‘Law of the jungle’
During the court hearing, both of the defence counsels, Mr Diarmuid Connolly for Mr O’Grady and Mr Eoin Garavan for Mr Dyra, made reference to the alleged incident involving the female and Mr Murray and said that their clients’ actions were motivated by the belief that Mr Murray had raped their friend.
Sgt Denis Harrington said the female did not make a statement to the gardaí, and said he could not give the two men any credit for holding the belief that a rape had taken place because their belief was founded on a rumour. Judge Johnson commented that Mr Murray was a completely innocent man.
Mr Garavan said that his client, Mr Dyra, is a final-year engineering student in GMIT and that he knew all of the people involved. He accepted he acted wrongly and should not have dealt with what he was told in the way he did. He said he had a number of character witnesses who would say that Mr Dyra was never in trouble before and was unlikely to get into trouble again.
Mr Connolly said his client’s belief of what he understood happened between Mr Murray and the girl was genuine, but that he he was wrong in the way he behaved. He said the incident was not premeditated but it escalated and that he had now learned his lesson.
Judge Johnson said the two men should have reported what they heard about the girl to the Gardaí and not taken the law into their own hands. He said what occurred was the ‘law of the jungle’ and sentenced them to 18 months but suspended the sentence for four years, and he ordered they each pay €2,500 in compensation to Mr Murray.