29 Jun 2022

Businessman pays €6,000 and must do anger management course after assaults

The man appeared before Letterkenny District Court this week

Letterkenny court house.

Letterkenny court house.

A Letterkenny businessman has paid €6,000 in compensation and must undergo an anger management course.

Gary Cooney, 53, of Cooney’s Home and Garden, Letterkenny, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault when he appeared before Letterkenny District Court this week.

The charges related to an incident on November 10, 2019.

A group of males who were in Cooney’s premises allegedly made off with an electronic stock control item said to be worth €5,000.

The court heard that Cooney went after the males after noticing that the item was missing.

One of the youths alleged that Cooney strangled and kicked him in the stomach and headbutted him. He told Gardai that Cooney dragged him to the ground and searched his bag. The piece of equipment was not located.

The other youth claimed that Cooney head-butted and punched him and stamped on his chest.

Counsel for Cooney, Mr Sean McGee BL, told the court that while his client did not accept ‘much or any’ of what was alleged, he admitted that he ‘crossed a line’. The youths, the court heard, were ‘running riot’ in his shop and there had been an allegation of assault on a female member of staff.

Cooney pleaded guilty to two section 2 assaults on Monday and Judge Brendan O’Reilly considered the matter until Thursday.

“It is readily admitted by Mr Cooney that he overstepped a line he shouldn’t have and he should have called the Gardaí instead,” Judge O’Reilly said.

“The assault was admitted, injuries were sustained to the degree that evidence showed; both young people attended hospital and made victim impact statements.”

Judge O’Reilly said he was taking into account the age of the young people involved.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had reduced the charges from section 3 assaults to section 2. Cooney’s early guilty plea, Judge O’Reilly said, saved the State the expense of a trial and prevented the two youths from the ‘trauma’ of having to sit through evidence and cross-examination.

“Mr Cooney has come to court in a humble fashion and admitted that he was wrong,” Judge O’Reilly said.

“He has apologised to the children, their parents and the Gardaí. He comes here with no previous convictions and it appears that this man was overwhelmed by the circumstances he found himself in.”

Cooney was, Judge O’Reilly added, a ‘family man, a volunteer with the GAA and his likelihood of reoffending is very, very unlikely’.

Judge O’Reilly asked that Cooney pay €3,000 to each of the youths and that he undertake an anger management course.

Were those matters attended to, Judge O’Reilly said he would give Cooney the benefit of the Probation Act.

The alternative penalties were two €1,000 fines and one-month in prison.

Cooney returned to the court a short time later and the relevant funds were handed over. Cooney took to the stand and undertook to complete the anger management course within six months.

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