Boxer jailed for assault on two senior businessmen in Co Cavan

James Bernard McGovern (24) pleaded guilty to attacking Kevin Lunney and Dara O’Reilly

James Bernard McGovern (24) arriving at Cavan Circuit Court for his sentence hearing having pleaded guilty to assaulting two directors of the former Quinn group of companies. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

James Bernard McGovern (24) arriving at Cavan Circuit Court for his sentence hearing having pleaded guilty to assaulting two directors of the former Quinn group of companies. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

A Fermanagh boxer has been jailed for assaulting two senior businessmen at a Cavan filling station two years ago.

In actions inspired, his legal team suggest, by the sacking of his dad the day before, James Bernard McGovern (24) broke businessman Kevin Lunney’s nose and left him with potentially lasting damage to one eye.

McGovern pleaded guilty this month to assaulting the Mannok chief operating officer, causing him harm at Rakeelan filling station, near Ballyconnell, on February 1st, 2019.

He also pleaded to a lesser charge of assaulting Dara O’Reilly, chief financial officer at the same enterprise, businesses once founded by Sean Quinn snr.

McGovern was sentenced to three years and three months for assaulting Mr Lunney, and five months to be served concurrently for the attack on Mr O’Reilly.

McGovern, with an address at Springtown Road, Kinawley, first threw a cup of scalding tea in Mr O’Reilly’s face before hitting Mr Lunney up to seven or eight times, knocking him to the floor, Cavan Circuit Court was told.

Truck driver

The court heard the attack occurred the day after McGovern’s father Seán had his employment as a truck driver with Quinn Industrial Holdings –rebranded as Mannok – terminated.

McGovern, who was 22 at the time, was sitting in the filling station cafe a short distance from the two businessmen after they arrived at around 1.15pm.

McGovern got up, asked for a fresh pot of boiling water, then poured himself a cup before the Ulster title-winning amateur boxer attacked the men.

Despite the best efforts of others present to restrain McGovern, he was able to flee the scene.

Neither Mr Lunney nor Mr O’Reilly provided victim-impact statements. However, Mr Lunney said he bore McGovern “no ill will” following the attack.

While shocked and upset at the time, Mr O’Reilly also expressed a desire to put the matter behind him. He hoped McGovern would “get on with his life too in a socially positive manner”.

For clarity, it was stated to the court that McGovern had no involvement in incidents in September 2019, when Mr Lunney was abducted near his Fermanagh home, tortured and dumped on a rural Cavan back road.

Remorseful

Karl Monaghan, instructed by John M Quinn solicitors in Dublin, acting for the defence, stated that his client was remorseful for his actions.

A “gesture” of €1,000 was offered to Mr Lunney by way of compensation, which the businessman said could be donated to charity if the court so directed.

McGovern spent almost five months behind bars at Castlerea prison after first being taken into custody in June last year, and up until he successfully applied for High Court bail two days before Christmas.

Judge John Aylmer described the attacks as being at the “upper end” of the scale of such offending.

He also described the attack as “callous” and “premeditated”.

The judge was asked by McGovern’s counsel if consideration could be given to suspending a portion of the sentence, but he replied given all the factors of the case, that such leniency would not be “appropriate”.