Defendant appears "as someone who has come out of a horror film; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"

Judge and superintendent express serious concerns over goings-on in Donegal house

Donegal courthouse

Donegal Town courthouse

A district court judge and a garda superintendent have both expressed concern about what went on in a house in Donegal where four people were arrested.

One of those arrested and brought before Wednesday’s sitting of Donegal District Court was 34-year-old Michael Callaghan of 436 Drumrooske Estate, Donegal Town. He had been due before the court in relation to alleged bail breaches regarding the charge of assaulting James Wilson and causing him harm at 436 Drumrooske Estate, Donegal Town on December 30. 

However, he was arrested in the early hours of Wednesday after gardaí were alerted to a disturbance at a house at Drumrooske Estate. Callaghan was charged with intoxication to the extent of being a danger to himself or others. 

The defendant appeared in court in a white hazmat-type one-piece garment with numerous cuts and bruises on his face. 

Judge Kevin Kilrane asked: “Why is he dressed like this?"

Superintendent Colm Nevin explained that on arrival at the property where the disturbance was taking place, Callaghan came to the door. 

“He was intoxicated, and had a deep cut to his head,” said the inspector. “An ambulance was called. He resisted getting into the ambulance. Paramedics feared for their own safety.”

The defendant was eventually conveyed to hospital where he received 10 stitches. He was then released, taken to Ballyshannon Garda Station and subsequently charged. Two women were also arrested and brought before the court. A second male was brought to hospital with a head injury and was subsequently detained. 

In response to a garda objection to bail, defence solicitor Gerry McGovern said: “I find it strange that this man is brought to the court in this state where it is clear that half his head is stitched and he is not responsible for that. 

“He is displayed in court in this outfit. It paints a picture which is not fair to Mr Callaghan.”

The solicitor also suggested that Mr Callaghan could have been cleaned up in order to appear at court. 

Superintendent Nevin replied that it was not an unfair picture, given that eight gardaí had been required at the scene to deal with matters. The defendant had also been aggressive to the ambulance crew.

He added: “We don’t go around washing people up.”

In relation to bail, Judge Kilrane said: “We don’t know what happened inside that house beyond that the defendant seems to be very badly injured. He refused any form of help from the ambulance crew etc. We can only assume that he wanted to get back into the house. Someone could have been badly injured or worse. The problem is that he is only facing Section 4 [intoxication] which does not carry a prison sentence. 

“Whether it is just a madhouse where alcohol and other stuff goes on, where people are seriously injured like this man here who doesn’t want to cooperate with gardaí and ambulance personnel, is that enough for bail to be refused?"

Superintendent Nevin also voiced concern about the events at the house. 

Regarding the fairness or otherwise of the defendant being in court given his injuries, the superintendent said: “They saw fit for him to be discharged from hospital last night.”

In relation to the alleged breaches of bail as set out in court on January 6, Garda Catherine Henry outlined three separate incidents.

One condition of Callaghan’s bail was that he remained sober. Garda Henry said that she had attended his address on January 26 following a complaint that Callaghan made threatening phone calls to a neighbour. 

“He was highly intoxicated,” she said.  

Another condition was that the defendant be contactable at all times on a phone number given to gardaí. 

Garda Henry said she had called him twice on that number on January 27 and both calls had gone unanswered.

A further bail condition was not to interfere with any witnesses.

Garda Henry told the court that on February 2, the defendant’s brother David called to the alleged assault victim James Wilson. He asked Mr Wilson if he was withdrawing the charges against his brother.

Mr Wilson said no, to which David Callaghan admitted replying,  “What am I to tell Michael?”

Furthermore, two unanswered calls were made to Mr Wilson from the phone registered to Michael Callaghan. David Callaghan claimed to have made these calls and visited Mr Wilson of his own accord. 

Judge Kilrane said he could not rescind bail because it would be difficult to show that Mr Wilson had been contacted at the request of Mr Callaghan.

“The other two incidents, again I find they are not just quite sufficient to warrant rescinding of bail,” said the judge. 

“On saying that, what is going on in this household is shocking. 

“The defendant appears here in court as someone who has come out of a horror film; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, lacerated from top to bottom.”

Judge Kilrane said it would have to be established if Callaghan was a victim of what happened at the house or it was mutual.

“Gardaí will investigate that,” he said. “But obstacles are being put in their way from what we heard today. However, more information may be forthcoming.”

The judge extended bail to include the new charge. He adjourned all matters to April 26 but said they could be re-entered if further charges emerged.

Michael Callaghan, 34, of 436 Drumrooske appeared before the same court sitting on charges of being intoxicated to the extent of being a danger to himself or others during the same incident. He had been treated in hospital and had received 10 stitches to a head wound. Callaghan was also released on bail.

It is understood that a second man who was brought to hospital from the scene was subsequently detained. 

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email editorial@donegaldemocrat.ie To contact Donegal Post, email editor@donegalpost.com To contact Inish Times, email editor@inishtimes.com.

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