The case was heard before Manorhamilton District Court last week
Judge Kevin P Kilrane described a written statement provided by a Manorhamilton businessman as a “tissue of lies” before convicting him of a Section 2 assault at Manorhamilton District Court.
Damien McPartland, Cherrybrook, Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim had denied assaulting Alan Walker on October 30, 2018.
At last week’s sitting of Manorhamilton District Court, Mr Walker, told the court that he had attended McPartland Fuels Ltd, Cherrybrook, Manorhamilton on October 30, 2018.
He said that he had been working elsewhere but his head office had contacted him and asked him to stop in at the business to discuss repayment of an outstanding invoice.
He said that he drove to Mr McPartland's business premises and, as the barrier was open, he followed a lorry into the yard and drove down to park beside a diesel pump that he had worked on 12 months previously.
He said he turned off the engine and was still in his van when a white land cruiser pulled up and a man he later identified as Damien McPartland, got out.
“He told me to “get the eff off my yard” and he also told me “to go and sign in”,” said Mr Walker in his evidence.
Mr Walker said he told the man he would sign in and Mr McPartland replied “just get out of the yard”.
He said that Mr McPartland then put the key of his own land cruiser in his mouth and reached in through the window, grabbing Mr Walker’s arm before “he started punching me through the window (of my van). He punched me two or three times.”
He said that he forced Mr McPartland's arm in the opposite direction in a bid to stop the attack and Mr McPartland backed off but told him “get the hell out of my yard”.
To which Mr Walker replied “don't worry I'm going”.
Mr Walker then left the property and called the gardai.
Mr McPartland's solicitor, Gerry McGovern, said there had been some dispute about invoicing and the total amount being sought from his client. He claimed that Mr Walker had been on site to dismantle the pump not to collect money. He also accused Mr Walker of “driving like the hammers of hell” onto the site behind a lorry and failing to follow protocol by not stopping at the main office to sign in when he arrived.
However Mr Walker vehemently denied all accusations. He said that he had a worksheet for the works carried out 12 months previous, which he presented to the court, and he pointed out his employer was in court with paperwork for the outstanding payment.
He said the barrier had been open when he arrived on site. He accepted he had followed a lorry in but said that he had not accelerated in behind the lorry.
Mr Walker also pointed out that his habit was always to park by the pumps of all sites he visited. He said in this instance he drove down beside the pump he had worked on to check it was working and said he had intended to get out and walk back to the head office to sign in but he “never got the chance. I was only on site 30 seconds. Not once did he try to negotiate with me, he just hit me”.
“Normally I go onto a site, park and then make myself known (in the office),” said Mr Walker, adding that, since he never got the opportunity to get out of the van before he was attacked, he could not follow through and sign-in.
Mr Walker admitted he had not originally identified Mr McPartland as his attacker but had gone online and found a photo of the man he believed to have assaulted him. He then identified Mr McPartland in court.
However Mr McGovern denied his client had attacked Mr Walker. “I put it to you he did not meet you, he does not believe you were assaulted and he didn’t assault you”, he told Mr walker.
However Mr Walker denied this was the case.
“I didn’t even get the chance to get out of my van,” said Mr Walker.
Mr Walker said he hadn’t refused to sign in at the main office, he hadn’t gotten a chance to do so, adding he also never got a chance to explain to Mr McPartland why he was there.
“Mr McPartland, with his left hand, grabbed my right arm and delivered two to three punches through the window (of the van),” he said.
“I was inside the van. The only reason he stopped (the assault) was when he went for the key of my van, I forced him arm back the wrong way and he stepped back.”
Mr Walker said that he had contacted gardai about the assault within five minutes of the incident.
Garda Brendan Flannery told the court that he received a call at 2.20pm on October 30, 2018 about the alleged assault.
He met with Mr Walker a short time later and noted there were “no visible marks on his body at the time”.
He said that he and Mr Walker had returned to the business premises and made enquiries about what gentlemen were present on the site. Mr Walker confirmed that a man who entered the office was not the man who assaulted him.
Gda Flannery noted that Mr McPartland was not present in the yard or the office when he was there.
The garda later made efforts to contact Mr McPartland but had received no reply. He made contact with the defendant on November 21, 2018 and requested that he attend the garda station but Mr McPartland had not done so.
On January 27, 2019 Gda Flannery received a prepared statement from Mr McPartland. When Mr McPartland attended the garda station in February 2019, the statement was read over and signed by Mr McPartland.
In the prepared statement Mr McPartland said that he had purchased the pumps as part of a property purchase in Cavan and had moved them to his yard in Manorhamilton.
He had called the company that Mr Walker had worked for to finish the installation of the pumps but noted that 24 hours after the work was completed the pumps had stopped working.
He said that the company who carried out the work had billed him but he said he would not pay the bill until the pump was properly working.
Referring to the date in question, Mr McPartland said that he noticed a black van “speeding into the yard”. He said the security barrier had been opened for a lorry which was expected to arrive but the van had also driven in.
In the statement Mr McPartland claimed that he had “approached the driver (of the black van) calmly” and asked him to attend the main office to sign in.
He said that Mr Walker had then become abusive and told him to “f**k off” and that he “would do no such thing”.
Mr McPartland said he once again asked Mr Walker to sign in and was told Mr Walker “would not go until he got paid”.
“I made him the offer of coming into the office” said Mr McPartland, he said to discuss the matter and contact Mr Walker’s employer. However Mr McPartland said in his prepared statement that Mr Walker had become abusive and refused to leave his van.
Mr McPartland said he then informed Mr Walker that he was trespassing and if he would not leave he would be forced to call the gardai.
Mr McPartland denied any allegation of assault and said that he was “completely shocked” by the accusation.
He said that Mr Walker had left the yard and he had also left the property.
Explaining why he had not been in contact with gardai about the allegation earlier, Mr McPartland said that his wife had just had their second child at the time and “life was extremely busy for me”.
He insisted he had not assaulted Mr Walker adding “if anything I was left with a certain sense of fear because of his tone”.
Taking the stand Mr McPartland said that issues had arisen with pumps programmed by Mr Walker's company “less than 24 hours after” the work was completed on them.
He said he requested the company again return to fix them but a dispute subsequently arose over the work and billing for the job.
He said that on the date of the alleged assault the barriers to the yard were opened for an expected delivery but “a van shot in past” the barrier.
“I observed the van going in and I drove back to see what he was doing,” said Mr McPartland.
“He told me he was there to collect a debt and I told him to come over to the office, he had no business there (at the pumps),” said the defendant.
He said he had to employ another company to carry out work on the pumps.
“I told him (Mr Walker) to sign in and we'd go and contact his boss and sort it out. I wasn't leaving him there (at the pumps) on his own,” he said.
“One word beggared another and (Mr Walker) stormed out to the other side of the barrier and drove up the lane”.
He denied hitting Mr Walker but acknowledged that “words were exchanged”. He admitted he had gotten out of his own jeep to approach Mr Walker's van, but said that he had not told him to “f**k off” and had not assaulted him.
He insisted Mr Walker had been abusive and had refused to sign in at the office as protocol required.
Judge Kevin P Kilrane said there was an “element of agreement up to a point” and the only point of disagreement is the alleged assault.
He said that Mr Walker had been acting on the orders of his employer in visiting the site to discuss outstanding payment and accepted Mr Walker had “bypassed the security system by following on the tail of a lorry” however he said there was “nothing very unusual about that” and observed that Mr Walker was at the site in a work van which was clearly flagged as to what company he worked for and who he was”.
Judge Kilrane said he believed that Mr Walker had driven down to the pumps to ascertain if the pumps his company installed were working.
He said that believed Mr McPartland had stopped his own vehicle beside Mr Walker's van and told him to sign in and was satisfied that Mr McPartland “flew into a fit of serious ill-temper” before assaulting Mr Walker.
Judge Kilrane said he believed that this incident did “involve a number of punches” delivered by Mr McPartland through the window of Mr Walker's van.
Judge Kilrane said he was “very unimpressed” by Mr McPartland's manner of dealing with the incident.
“To a large extent this is a tissue of lies with relation to (Mr McPartland's written evidence) of his conversation with Mr Walker on the date in question,” he said.
He said that he could not understand why Mr McPartland had absented himself from his yard following this incident and why he had not responded to attempts to contact him by gardai until he “submitted a pre-prepared statement on January 27, 2019.”
He added this “speaks volumes about the veracity of his statement. He ducked and dived and stayed out of contact and remained out of contact for quite a time.”
Judge Kilrane noted Mr McPartland’s explanation of the arrival of his second child as a reason for delaying speaking to gardai about the alleged assault however he said he was “unimpressed” by the way that the defendant approached the case.
“If (Mr McPartland) had approached this (case) in a different way and said that he had lost his head - things may have been different,” said Judge Kilrane.
“However this was not his case. He says that he never assaulted (Mr Walker) and he puts all the blame against Mr Walker and none on himself. He's trying to present himself as someone trying to do things in a very civilised way and this is not true.”
He then convicted and fined Mr McPartland €400, ordering him to pay €200 in witness expenses. Recognisances were fixed in the event of an appeal.