Teachers avoid jail over ‘ugly’ brawl

By Tom Tuite

Two primary school teachers and an accountant are among those who have been spared jail for taking part in an “ugly” 10-man brawl in a popular Dublin pub.

Four of the accused, who have Dublin addresses, and a fifth, from Kildare, had pleaded guilty to taking part in violent disorder after a row broke out at McGowan’s pub, Phibsborough, in the early hours of July 14, 2017.

Teachers Michael Davitt, aged 34, of Clanmaurice Rd, Donnycarney, and Seamus O’Cearra, aged 34, of Mount Symon Green, Clonsilla, were each ordered to donate €800 to charity.

O’Cearra was also given a one-month sentence by Judge Brian O’Shea, who suspended it on condition that he keep the peace for six months.

Judge O’Shea told Davitt and O’Cearra that when they went out, they were ambassadors for their schools and, “in this regard, they had let their profession and, more importantly, themselves down in a most egregious way”.

Accountant Conor Shannon, aged 33, from Glendale Estate, Leixlip, Co Kildare, avoided being jailed and was ordered to donate €800 to charity within six months.

Warehouse manager Stephen Cantwell, aged 28, from Collins Avenue, and electrician David McSweeney, aged 31, from McKee Avenue, Finglas, appeared before the same court in connection with the incident.

McSweeney, who was celebrating his birthday on the night, faced an additional charge for producing a glass as a weapon.

He had 27 prior convictions and waited for the “perfect moment” before throwing a pint glass “full force” into O’Cearra’s face “at short range”, it was noted.

McSweeney was jailed for six months while Cantwell was given a two-month sentence, suspended on condition he stays out of trouble for the next six months, and he must give €800 to charity.

Judge O’Shea described it as an ugly incident in which pub staff did their best and “struggled and struggled to placate the accused”. None of the five defendants walked away or retreated during the fight, he remarked.

In an outline of the facts, the judge heard the incident happened at 2.40am and up to 10 people got into a row, which continued even after staff tried to separate them. It was finished by the time gardaí arrived.

Judge O’Shea heard that Cantwell was observed hitting another male from behind — after he had been punched by that man earlier in the row.

The court was told that Davitt, who teaches at Hollywell Educate Together in Swords, Dublin, was also involved in the melee and had thrown a number of punches, “but not at anyone in particular”.

He also suffered a bloody nose after receiving a blow to the face, the court heard.

McSweeney was also seen fighting and threw a glass which hit O’Cearra, who was injured and suffered a cut to his forehead. Judge O’Shea rejected McSweeney’s claim he did not intend to hit O’Cearra’s face with the glass, but rather the wall.

Judge O’Shea, who had studied CCTV evidence, described that claim as “absolute nonsense”.

O’Cearra, who works at Mary, Mother of Hope NS in Littlepace, Dublin 15, was also kicked; however, he was also observed punching one man in the face, knocking him against the bar and on to the floor.

All five men apologised in court via their lawyers.

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