Boxer pleads guilty to assault on businessmen

James Bernard McGovern charged with attacking men from father’s former employer

A medal-winning Fermanagh boxer has pleaded guilty to assaulting two senior local businessmen at a local petrol station in what was described a “misguided and unjustified” attack following the sacking of his father.

James Bernard McGovern (24) appeared before Judge John Aylmer at Cavan Circuit Court on Thursday morning where he was arraigned on charges of attacking Kevin Lunney and Dara O'Reilly, causing them harm, at the Applegreen Service Station, Rakeelan, near Ballyconnell, on February 1st, 2019.

Mr Lunney is the chief operating officer at Mannok, formerly Quinn Industrial Holdings, while Mr O’Reilly is chief financial officer. Neither of the men were present in court.

McGovern, with an address at Springtown Road, Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, faces up to five years’ imprisonment upon conviction for assault causing harm.


McGovern pleaded guilty to the charge of assault causing harm to Mr Lunney.

Filling station

However, he pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Mr O’Reilly and instead pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, of assault contrary to section 2 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act.

Evidence was provided by Sgt James McDevitt.

The court heard that the attacks occurred just days after McGovern’s father, Seán, had his employment as a truck driver with Quinn Industrial Holdings terminated.

In a statement given to gardaí by Mr Lunney, he said he had gone to the local filling station with Mr O’Reilly on their lunchbreak. The defendant was at the next table. Mr Lunney knew who he was and that McGovern boxed competitively.

McGovern got up from his table before returning a short time later when he threw a cup of hot water in Mr O’Reilly’s face and proceeded to punch Mr Lunney in the face up to eight times, injuring his eye and fracturing his nose.

Broken nose

McGovern escaped before making his way to his brother’s business next door.

Mr Lunney later underwent surgery for the broken nose and suffered potentially lasting damage to his right eye.

Mr O’Reilly was made aware that Mr McGovern’s son, Bernard, was sitting next to them by Mr Lunney.

He recalled having what he believed to be a cup of tea thrown in his face, adding that he had been lucky he was wearing glasses because they protected his eyes.

Karl Monaghan, acting for the defence, said his client was remorseful for his actions and had been suffering with depression at the time.

Mr Monaghan acknowledged that the attack was in some way inspired by McGovern’s father losing his job, but this had been a “misguided and unjustified reaction to that”.

The judge remanded McGovern on continuing bail, with sentencing adjourned until March 19th.