Wednesday 23 October 2019

Businessman jailed after family subjected to ordeal on Sunday morning

Judge Haughton.
Judge Haughton.

A family of five suffered a traumatic ordeal on Sunday morning, April 26, when a drunken businessman home from New York began banging on their door at 11.30 a.m. and demanding drugs and sex.

The culprit - John Cavanagh (48), with an address at 13 Ard Colm, Rectory Hall, Castlebridge - ended up being arrested and kept locked up overnight at Wexford Garda Station, before being brought to the District Court on Monday morning.

There, Judge Gerard Haughton ruled that his actions were serious enough to warrant an immediate two-month jail sentence. He refused to consider suspending the sentence, but did fix terms for an appeal, which were availed of later in the sitting.

The court heard from Sergeant Gary Rayner how Gardai received a call at 12.10 p.m. on Sunday to say a man was banging on the door of a family home in the Ard Colm estate, saying he wanted drugs and sex.

He was adamant that the house was a brothel, and refused to believe Gardai when they told him it was not. He was so drunk that he was unable to give his name or any other details, and he remained aggressive after being brought to the Garda Station, where he banged his head off the wall for some time after being placed in a cell.

The father of the family affected told how he was home with his wife and three young children when the incident began around 11.30 a.m. His wife and children screamed with fright during the ordeal, and his children remained so traumatised that they would not let him leave the house for the rest of the day, and had to be reassured before going to bed that the man was locked up and would not be coming back. Even on Monday morning, they had to be given the same assurances before they went to school.

Defending solicitor Eadoin Lawlor said that Cavanagh had little or no recollection of the incident.

She explained that he has been living in the USA for the past 26 years and owns a number of restaurants in New York. He was home to visit his 83-year-old father, and he was very apologetic and embarrassed for both himself and his father because of what he had done.

Ms Lawlor added that her client had never been in trouble with police before, either in Ireland or the USA. He had no intention of returning to the estate.

He was due to fly back to New York on Wednesday, and had already arranged with Gardai for a car and personal belongings to be brought to him from Ard Colm, ahead of him staying with other relations in Dublin before taking his flight on Wednesday. She suggested the case could be dealt with by way of payment of compensation to the family.

Judge Haughton felt it was much more serious than that.

'I have heard the effect this had on three young children, and it could hardly be any worse. This may be his first conviction and he is entitled to some benefit for pleading guilty, but in my view it is serious enough to warrant a two-month prison sentence,' he said.

Ms Lawlor began to speak again, but the Judge immediately said: 'I won't consider suspending it. Drink is not an excuse.'

Cavanagh, who was sitting in the front row of the court and who did not speak during the case, held his head in his hands as the sentence was handed down.

Judge Haughton did agree to fix recognisances for appeal, and these were entered into a short time later when Cavanagh's father came to court to act as independent surety.

Cavanagh was still visibly shaking as he then left the court.

Wexford People

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