A CIRCUIT court judge has said that he has a duty to protect the people of Ballina from ‘the vicious thugs roaming the streets at weekends’.
Judge Raymond Groarke made his remarks on Friday last after imposing prison sentences on three men who pleaded guilty to assault on a man in the town in May of last year. A shovel was used to beat the man in the assault, which left him with injuries to his head, face, wrists and feet.
During the course of the evidence, Detective Garda Eddie Naughton, told Judge Groarke that there was a Public Order problem at weekends in Ballina and it has been that way for the ‘last few years’. “Unfortunately, at the weekends there would be a lot of Section 3 assaults in the town. It’s probably no different to any other town and it happens when the discos are over and when the pubs close. Nearly every weekend there’d be some incident in the town,’’ he said.
Judge Groarke said he was not on a crusade to clean up the town but he had a duty to its people.
“I have to say that I was horrified to hear what Det Naughton said during his evidence. It seems to me that there are thugs roaming around the streets of Ballina engaging in criminal conduct. I have a duty to put an end to that carry-on. I will do my duty and if that means hardships for people who engage in this behaviour, then so be it. It might mean that those thugs might hesitate in the future,” he said.
As a result of the assault on Declan O’Connor of 62, Childers Heights, Ballina, three men received prison sentences. Thomas Collins, 44, St Patrick’s Estate, Ballina was sentenced to three years with the final 18 months suspended; Ernest Ashman, 76, St Patrick’s Estate, Ballina received a term of 18 months’ imprisonment, with the final six months suspended, and Milos Pjatak, 36, Castlefield Manor, Ballina also received a term of 18 months’ imprisonment with the final six months suspended.