Cork county councillor guilty of assaulting brother and nephew

Frank Roche convicted of attacks on relatives in ongoing dispute over family inheritance

Cllr Frank Roche (58), from Balladeen, Castletownroche, Co Cork:  denied assaulting  his brother David and his nephew Colm. Photograph: Facebook

Cllr Frank Roche (58), from Balladeen, Castletownroche, Co Cork: denied assaulting his brother David and his nephew Colm. Photograph: Facebook

 

A Cork councillor has been convicted of assault and engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour after a judge heard how he had punched his brother and tried to pull his nephew out of a car as part of a family inheritance dispute.

Cllr Frank Roche (58), from Balladeen, Castletownroche, Co Cork had denied assaulting both his brother, David and his nephew, Colm (21) at Ballyadeen, Castletownroche on January 18th, 2020 contrary to Section 2 of the Non Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997.

Cllr Roche, an independent member of Cork County Council for the Fermoy Electoral Area, had also denied a charge of engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting language with intent to provoke a breach of the peace on the same occasion, contrary to Section 6 of the Public Order Act 1994

At a special sitting of Fermoy District Court on Monday, Judge Alec Gabbett found Cllr Roche guilty of all three charges.

David Roche told the court how his father, David Snr had bequeathed half the family farm to him and half to another brotherPat, but had left nothing to Frank other than a site . This, he said, was because of the acrimonious relationship that he had with Frank, stretching back over 30 years.

David Roche told how on the day in question he and his son, Colm were driving along a road near the farm at Ballyadeen when he spotted a 4x4 that had pulled in.

He said he lowered the passenger window of his 4X4 to speak to the driver whom he didn’t recognise.

Headlock

He said his brother Frank then came around the back of the vehicle and grabbed his son Colm in a headlock and tried to pull him out through the window.

The court heard Colm managed to break free of Frank Roche, who then started to punch him. David Roche then confronted his brother who began striking him.

Colm Roche managed to come behind his uncle and grab his arms and they tussled into a field before Frank Roche broke free.

“I shouted at him to go away and leave us alone and to live his own life but he told me he would die on the farm and that I was a lousy bastard and that we would all rot in hell,” said David Roche, adding that he feared for his own safety and that of his son.

Colm Roche corroborated his father’s version of events and said he filmed the final moments of the exchange.

A video clip was played for the judge in which Frank Roche could be heard shouting repeatedly that he hoped both Colm and David Roche would “rot in f**king hell”.

Frank Roche, an agricultural contractor, denied the charges and said he was driving with his friend Mark Guerin when he spotted an orange spanner on the road which he thought might be his. He said he got out to get it when David Roche drove at him and tried to run him down.

Afraid

“He has a habit of driving at me at high speed …. I am afraid of my brother, they have ruined my life and cost me my farm and now they want do down my character and get me out of Cork County Council because it gives me a platform to highlight farm abuse,” he said.

Asked by Insp Tony Sullivan why he told gardaí that he did not want to make a statement when they contacted him, Frank Roche said he was fearful of his brother and he simply wanted to get on with his life.

“I don’t want to be here today, I want to be able to get on with my life and get on with my role as a public representative helping other people in my community,” said Frank Roche before apologising for using bad language as seen on the video. He said he was in severe shock at the time.

Judge Gabbett said there was a clear conflict between the evidence of David Roche and Colm Roche and the evidence of Frank Roche .

“I find them credible and as far as I’m concerned, an assault took place,” said Judge Gabbett.

“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,” said Judge Gabbett as he adjourned sentencing until January 28th to get a probation report on Frank Roche and a victim impact statement from David Roche.

The court heard Frank Roche had three previous convictions for assaults, going back to 2012 including one where he had received a three month suspended sentence.