'I thought I was going to die', security guard tells Roscommon assault trial

A security guard allegedly attacked by a large group of men at a farmhouse in Roscommon has told a jury that he thought he was going to die on the night
'I thought I was going to die', security guard tells Roscommon assault trial

Declan Brennan

A security guard allegedly attacked by a large group of men at a farmhouse in Roscommon has told a jury that he thought he was going to die on the night.

It's the State's case that at around 5am on December 16th, 2018, a group of around 30 people arrived at the rural property, armed with chains, pickaxe handles, a meat cleaver, baseball bats and a hurley.

The door of the house was smashed with a sledgehammer and four security men were seriously assaulted, forced to the ground, had their shoes removed and their hands tied with cable ties. The windows and doors of the house were smashed, the men’s vans and cars were set on fire and a guard dog was beaten unconscious and had to be put down.

Tony McGillicuddy SC, prosecuting, told the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury that the four defendants allegedly took part in sustained and brutal violence which was designed to terrorise and brutalise the men working there.

Patrick Sweeney (44) of High Cairn, Ramelton, Co Donegal, Martin O'Toole (58) of Stripe, Irishtown, Claremorris, Co Mayo, Paul Beirne (56) of Croghan, Boyle, Co Roscommon and David Lawlor (43) of Bailis Downs, Navan, Co. Meath have pleaded not guilty to a total of 53 charges.

Each man is separately charged with criminal damage to the door of the house, aggravated burglary, false imprisonment of and assault causing harm to the four security guards, arson and violent disorder. The four defendants are also charged with robbery of a wristwatch from John Graham and, finally, with animal cruelty.

On day two of the trial the first of the alleged injured parties Ian Gordon told Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, that he was the owner of a security company which carried out security at music festivals like Electric Picnic and Oxegen. He said his company also dealt with repossessions and execution of court orders.


He said that on December 11th, 2018 he and members of his staff were part of a group who went to the farmhouse in Falsk to act as bailiffs for the court in the execution of repossession order for the lands there.

Mr Gordon said he was briefed that there were two brothers living there and one had special needs. He said a locksmith used a bolt-cutter to cut a padlock on the gates to the property.

He said he heard screaming form inside the house and people saying “they're here, they're here”. He then saw nine men coming from the rear up towards the front, and some of these men kept saying “there was no court order in place”.

He said a court official asked him to remove the men from the property. He said one man standing beside him told him he was “a garda” but he didn't have a uniform.

Mr Gordon told the court that he asked this man for identification and this man told him “to f off”. The witness said this man, who was wearing a broad rimmed hat like a cowbody hat, then grabbed him “by the private area” put his with his arms around him and take him to the ground.

Two members of Mr Gordon's staff came to assist him and they were able to remove him off the property. The other men were also removed and a female garda went inside the house to speak to a woman who was inside and this woman and another man who was inside left.

Cow shed

Mr Gordon said he and his staff then secured the property by replacing the padlock and chain. He said a man turned up and said the cattle in the cow shed were his and the court official confirmed that the animals could be taken away.

He said that he and his staff were then tasked with staying on the grounds of the property to guard it and prevent any thefts. He said staff took turns working on watch and taking rest breaks.

He said on the morning of the alleged assaults he saw headlights coming up the laneway and saw a cattle truck approaching the house. He said there was also a telehandler, or farming forklift, with the head lights off and this was used to ram through the gates.

He said the men who were on duty were in vans outside the house and one of them shouting “stand to, stand to”. He said he went to the back of his VW Transport van and took his dog, a Belgian Shepherd called Quinn, out of a kennel.

He said he saw the back door of the cattle lorry drop down and a group of around 30 to 40 men came out of the back. He said some of them were wearing balaclavas, some had covers across their face, some had sleeveless hi-viz vests, and some hoodies pulled right up you could only see their eyes.

He said these people fanned out, some going to the parked vans and some trying to go around the back of the house. He said one of his colleagues Mark Rissen had been on a rest break inside the house but had come out.

Baseball bat

He said Mr Rissen was on the ground and three or four men were kicking him and stamping on his legs and ankles. He said he went forward with the dog and told the attackers to stand back, and that he was going to use the dog.

He said one of the attackers had a baseball bat and took a swing at the dog but missed him. He said this man then brought the bat over his head and brought it down on the dog's head.

“He hit him that hard, Quinn went down. His head was wide open, you could see his brain. He went down, he stayed down,” he said. He said the men kept hitting the dog and the same man hit him another four times.

He said this man had a “Magnum moustache, like in the TV show” and a receding hairline. Mr Gordon told this man “what the fuck are you doing” and he ran forward to try to protect the dog.

He said he was struck “really hard” in the head with what he was later told was “an engineers hammer”. He went to the ground and he could see the men still attacking Mr Rissen.

He said one man had a full size shotgun and he put it to his head and told him to get down. Mr Gordon said he was already on the ground and that one person was jumping on his back and another was jumping up and down on his legs.

“I was covering my head...trying to protect my head,” he said. Asked how he felt, the witness told Ms Rowland “I thought I was gonna die”

He said he saw the men were still attacking Mr Rissen and he could see more people and there was one man at the gate shouting “five minutes, ten minutes...like a timekeeper”.

He said he could see people with a hurley, sledgehammers, a still saw for cutting concrete and a chain saw. The trial continues before Judge Martin Baxter and a jury.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more