A father-of-six has been found guilty of striking another man up to 20 times with a blunt instrument during an attack inside a pub over four years ago.
Edward ‘Blondie’ Stokes (32), of Ferriskill, Granard, Co Longford, was convicted at Longford Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday of carrying out the attack on 27-year-old part-time farmer John Baxter at Kane’s Bar, Main Street, Granard, Co Longford on October 7th, 2018.
Mr Baxter sustained lacerations to his head, bruising to both arms and legs after being left in a pool of blood on the floor.
Video footage of the near three-minute incident was played to the jury over the course of a nine-day trial which showed Mr Baxter picking up a stool to defend himself as two men, one of whom was the accused, rained down a series of blows on the Cavan man.
Mr Baxter, in a statement to gardaí, told of how another man then arrived into the pub and struck him across the head with a wooden bat, before one of the men grabbed the implement and continued to swing it at Mr Baxter’s head and upper body.
The pair, he said, exited the pub seconds later, before two men, including the accused, entered armed with weapons.
“I was looking down at the floor with my hand on my head when I heard the front door opening,” he said.
“I looked up and received a blow to the head. As I was falling I saw ‘Blondie’ Edward Stokes. Blondie had a pick handle. I felt really dizzy and as I fell, I pulled the table over on top of myself.”
Mr Baxter said as he desperately tried to fend off his alleged attackers, he saw his life flash before him.
“As I was being beaten I felt I would never see my son and family ever again,” he said, adding how both men continued to beat him while he lay defenceless on the ground.
In the witness box, however, Mr Baxter told defence counsel Barry White SC, he could not positively identify Edward ‘Blondie’ Stokes as one of his alleged assailants.
He said he had been drinking for the entire week running up to the incident and despite having made an initial statement of complaint, his efforts to retract it came up short.
Mr Baxter subsequently filed an affidavit to a Kildare law firm in September 2019.
In that sworn document, he stated he couldn’t “confirm categorically” the alleged suspects identified by him in his initial garda statement were those responsible for the attack on him.
A former Longford-based garda, Sgt Ollie Walsh, told the court how he was able to identify Mr Stokes on CCTV footage carrying out the attack within seconds of viewing the recording.
Barry White, SC, defending, said Sgt Walsh had been simply mistaken in identifying his client as being one of the men captured on CCTV, a claim which was flatly denied by the garda.
The trial also heard details of how a still taken from CCTV footage appeared to match a photograph taken of Mr Stokes’ inner forearm showing the tattoo carrying the name ‘Stokes’.
That, the trial, heard, had been etched onto Mr Stokes’ arm prior to the October 7 incident.
Mr Stokes was remanded in custody for the purposes of sentencing to a sitting of Longford Circuit Criminal Court on Friday.