Cork garda pleads not guilty to four charges of perjury over assault


THE trial opened in Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday of a garda accused of perjury.

Garda John Finnegan, Carrignavar, Co Cork, has pleaded not guilty to four perjury charges which are alleged to have occurred during a hearing in Blarney District Court on November 3rd, 1992, at which three local men were convicted of assaulting the garda and of public order offences.

These charges arose from a melee in the Co Cork village of Carrignavar on July 6th, 1992 after a Munster hurling final match in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in which Limerick, Garda Finnegan's home county, were beaten by Cork.

A witness claimed yesterday that all the court proceedings since then and the current hearing would never have happened if Limerick had won the match.

In his opening remarks to the jury Mr Denis Vaughan Buckley SC, for the State, said the allegations were that during judicial proceedings Garda Finnegan stated on oath that he did not see any woman shouting and roaring or causing a disturbance near a chip van parked at the Green, Carrignavar, nor was this woman in his company or that of his brother, Garda Michael Finnegan, while they were at the chip van.

He allegedly swore that his brother's wife was not present in his company as he approached the van.

Mr Vaughan Buckley said that in addition to the evidence of Mr Michael Cashman snr and his wife, Breda, who were witnesses yesterday, their son Michael would say that he saw the Finnegans and their wives coming over the bridge from the direction of the local public house towards the chip van. He heard Mr Martin Daly shouting "pig" at Garda John Finnegan.

Ms Mary Finnegan, the accused man's wife, left the area but the other woman came over, followed by the two brothers, shouting at the top of her voice.

Mr Brian Allen, the chip van owner, will be an important witness, said the prosecuting counsel, as he will say that Garda John Finnegan was at the chip van, accompanied by Michael, and a woman he did not know.

She was shouting and roaring, was under the influence of drink and was very abusive.

Mr Michael Cashman snr said he was returning to the village to collect his son and daughter. He saw his son, Michael, sparring with Garda Michael Finnegan and he saw Mr Martin Daly fighting with Garda John Finnegan.

The woman who was with the Finnegans was highly intoxicated and roaring at the top of her voice. They were looking for a fight and a crowd of about 40 to 50 people gathered to watch the melee.

The woman, said Mr Cashman, had one of the worst tongues he had ever heard on a woman.

Cross examined by Mr Sean O Donnabhain, barrister, for Garda Finnegan, Mr Cashman said the row was all Garda, John Finnegan's fault. He "irritated" his son Michael while he was eating his chips. "He mocked him and rubbed up against him and was looking for a fight," said Mr Cashman.

"Do the men of Carrick take lightly to being brushed and rubbed up against by other men. Is nothing worse than being mocked when eating your chips?" asked Mr O Donnabhain.

Mr Cashman said he believed his son when he told him what happened. He did not hear any animosity towards Garda Finnegan. He said he did not think there would be a court case because of the melee.

"If the guard had copped himself on, there would have been no trial, he said, adding that he felt aggrieved and wronged that his sons were convicted in the District Court.

Ms Breda Cashman, the previous witness's wife, said she approached the woman who was shouting and roaring and asked her to take Garda John Finnegan home because he was so drunk. She was abusive and used foul language and Mrs Cashman walked away, locking herself into the car.

Cross examined by Mr Blaise O'Carroll, defending, Mrs Cashman said nothing would have happened on that Sunday night if Cork had not beaten Limerick. The woman had started everything.

"If Limerick won John Finnegan would have put the flag up but instead he was so upset about this he decided to let the woman loose in Carrignavar," she said.

Mrs Cashman said that when the District Court case finished that was the end of the matter as far as they were concerned. She felt sorry for her sons but she also felt sorry for John Finnegan because he had committed perjury and would have to face his Maker.

After the Blarney court they received obscene and threatening phone calls in which the caller said the boys would go to prison for 12 months and they would be killed.

She alleged Garda Finnegan followed her son late at night in the squad car for no reason.

She and her husband had complained about the perjury committed by Garda Finnegan.

The court heard that an appeal to the Circuit Court against the assault and public order convictions of Michael and John Cashman and Martin Daly was allowed on the direction of the DPP.

The trial continues tomorrow.