Councillor convicted of assaulting brother and nephew gets suspended sentence

Judge noted Frank Roche, a member of Cork County Council, showed no remorse

An Independent councillor convicted of assaulting his brother and nephew following a dispute over the inheritance of a family farm has been given a suspended sentence.

Frank Roche (58) of Ballyadeen, Castletownroche, Co Cork had denied assaulting his brother David, and his nephew Colm in January 2020.

At a sitting of Fermoy District Court in November he was convicted of assaulting both men and of engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting language.

On Monday at the same court Judge Alec Gabbett imposed a four month prison sentence which he suspended for twenty months.

Judge Gabbett expressed concern at the failure of the councillor to show remorse in the case.

“He has shown little or no empathy,” the judge said having read a probation report.

He described the defendant as having “an anti-authoritarian attitude.”

"My difficulty is that he seems to get himself in a lot of scrapes. This is a family dispute. (But) it is not uncommon in Ireland, " he said.

The defendant, an agricultural contractor, represents the Fermoy municipal area on Cork County Council.

The court previously heard he had a fractious relationship with his two brothers, David and Patrick, since they inherited their family farm from their father David Roche Senior.

David Roche gave evidence in relation to the assault. He indicated he and his son, Colm, were driving along a road near the farm at Ballyadeen when he spotted a jeep had pulled in. He said his brother Frank came around the back of his jeep and grabbed his son Colm in a headlock and tried to pull him out through the window. He also punched Colm before going on to hit David Roche.

Colm Roche filmed the final moments of the encounter on his phone.

A video clip was played for Judge Gabbett in which Frank Roche could be heard roaring that he hoped both Colm and David Roche would “rot in f***ing hell”.

Frank Roche denied the charges. He said he was driving with a friend when he saw an orange spanner lying on the road which he thought might belong to him. He claimed he got out to pick it up when David Roche drove at him and tried to run him down.

Judge Gabbett said there was a clear conflict between the evidence of David Roche and Colm Roche and that of Frank Roche but she found the father and son credible and believed an assault took place.

“This is a classic family dispute and it needs to be addressed - we have a situation here where it could escalate and people could hurt each other.”

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