Wheelchair users and elderly citizens were caught up in the cross-fire at a busy Ennis shopping mall as bottles of wine from Tesco were thrown through the air, a court has heard.
At Ennis District Court, Garda Michael Daniels described the mid-morning pre-Christmas panic at the Ennis shopping centre, adding the centre was placed in lockdown mode as two families confronted each other in the centre's main foyer.
In court, three members of the Delaney family, two members of the Keenan family and with two juveniles appeared in relation to being charged with affray and engaging in insulting and abusive behaviour at the shopping centre.
Outlining the alleged facts behind the incident at the Francis Street shopping centre on December 18th last, Garda Daniels said “the very strong CCTV footage shows the wine bottles being thrown in the foyer [which missed] persons in wheelchairs who were there in the main hallway at the time”.
Garda Daniels said during the incident 10 bottles of wine - with a combined value of €99.25 - were thrown by members of the Delaney family at the Keenan family.
The incident took place just after 11am seven days before Christmas Day. Garda Daniels said after some of the Delaneys entered the shopping centre, alleged assaults took place between them and members of the Keenan family.
Garda Daniels said after arriving at the scene, "I observed James Delaney, Ann Delaney along with a juvenile take bottles of wine from the Tesco off-licence and throw them at James Keenan snr, James Keenan jnr and a juvenile".
He said he intervened immediately and two arrests were made in the foyer.
Garda Daniels added: “What is very concerning about this incident is that it was one week before Christmas and there was a lot of elderly people and shoppers in the shopping centre who had to take evasive action to avoid injury due to bottles of wine being thrown in the foyer.”
Garda Daniels said the CCTV also shows James Keenan jnr with a hurley and a juvenile with a hockey stick.
He said: “The basic picture is that on one side of the shopping centre was the Keenan family and on the other side ... was the Delaney family and bottles of wine were coming down on the Keenans.”
The Garda said that during the incident, “for safety of patrons, every shop had to be closed down and shutters pulled down and bystanders had to be taken in”.
He said the investigation of the incident “was fast-tracked because of the seriousness of it and what people one week before Christmas were subjected to in the shopping centre”.
After hearing an outline of the State prosecution case, Judge Patrick Durcan said he was declining jurisdiction in the matter.
As a result, those before the court will go before the Circuit Court, where they will be open to higher jail terms if convicted. On conviction of affray in the District Court, those convicted can be jailed for 12 months, and this rises to a maximum jail term of five years in the Circuit Court.
In the case, James Keenan jnr (18) and James Keenan snr (40), both of Childers Road, Cloughleigh, Ennis; and Ann Marie Delaney (26) of Ashbrook Manor, Moynehall, Cavan; Ann Delaney (45) of Waterpark Heights, Ennis; James Delaney (27) of Gordon Drive, Cloughleigh, Ennis and two juveniles are all charged with affray, where they are accused of using or threatening to use unlawful violence against others.
They are also all charged with engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour with the intent to cause a breach of the peace.
Insp Tom Kennedy said an extensive book of evidence is required and Judge Durcan remanded all seven on bail to re-appear before Ennis District Court for the serving of the book on May 14th.