The Sligo Champion - - NEWS - By SOR­CHA CROW­LEY

A 50-year-old man is fac­ing a pos­si­ble re-trial on a charge of as­sault­ing a Garda Sergeant in North Sligo af­ter a jury failed to reach a ver­dict at Sligo Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court last Fri­day.

A day ear­lier, the jury of seven men and five women found Bren­dan Ley­don, of Lissadell, Ballinfull, not guilty of bur­glary of a house in Lissadell on 30 th April 2016.

Ley­don had pleaded not guilty be­fore Judge Fran­cis Comer­ford to the bur­glary charge and to a sec­ond charge of as­sault­ing Sgt Ter­ence McMa­hon.

The jury con­tin­ued its de­lib­er­a­tions on the as­sault charge into Fri­day but were un­able to reach ei­ther a unan­i­mous or a ma­jor­ity ver­dict.

The le­gal owner of the house, Ley­don’s for­mer wife, ear­lier in the week tes­ti­fied that on the date in ques­tion, the de­fen­dant ap­peared at her mother’s house and served her a pur­ported le­gal doc­u­ment which he claimed gave him the right to take the fam­ily home.

“He said ‘I’m serv­ing this on you’ with a kind of smirk on his face and he left,” she told the court.

“I felt the blood drain from my body from the shock,” she said.

The wo­man said she jumped into her car and drove to her house, which she had been pre­par­ing to rent out the week be­fore.

When she ar­rived at her prop­erty, there was a large chain and lock on the two front gates and the de­fen­dant’s car was parked out­side the front door.

His ex-wife climbed over the gate and tried her key on the front door but it wouldn’t work.

She told the court she tried the util­ity door but that wouldn’t open ei­ther. When she re­turned to the front door she said she saw Bren­dan Ley­don in the sit­ting room “laugh­ing” at her “with a big smirk on his face.”

She rang the Gar­daí and her brother and moved away from the front door.

“I couldn’t be­lieve that he had thought that this was a nor­mal thing to do. I couldn’t un­der­stand the low­ness of his be­hav­iour,” she told Mr Pat Reynolds SC, for the Pros­e­cu­tion, who was in­structed by Ms Elisa McHugh, State So­lic­i­tor for Sligo.

Mr Pat O’Sul­li­van BL was de­fend­ing, in­structed by Mr Mor­gan Cole­man so­lic­i­tor.

The jury was shown a le­gal doc­u­ment con­firm­ing Ley­don’s for­mer wife was the sole le­gal owner of the house.

Sergeant Ter­ence McMa­hon of Grange Garda Sta­tion took the wit­ness stand next and con­firmed he at­tended the scene shortly af­ter 9pm that evening, ac­com­pa­nied by Garda Fiach O’ Toole.

He said the de­fen­dant’s for­mer wife was “most in­sis­tent that Bren­dan Ley­don had no right to be in the house.”

He said she showed him the doc­u­ment Ley­don had served on her and he in­spected it.

“To me, it ap­peared to be a No­tice of Mo­tion, not a court or­der. The No­tice of Mo­tion was for the fol­low­ing 6 th July 2016,” said the sergeant.

He and Garda O’ Toole ap­proached the house. The de­fen­dant was in a front bed­room and opened the win­dow.

“He told me that he was tak­ing pos­ses­sion of the house and that he had the right to do so,” said the wit­ness.

“He handed me the same doc­u­ment and said it gave him per­mis­sion,” said Sgt McMa­hon.

He told Ley­don that he didn’t be- lieve it was a court or­der and asked him where he thought he got a court or­der on a Bank Hol­i­day Satur­day.

“He said it was his so­lic­i­tor (who got the or­der) and said his so­lic­i­tor told him ‘pos­ses­sion is nine tenths of the law’,” said the wit­ness.

The sergeant told the court that Ley­don gave him the name of a so­lic­i­tor from Knock­vicar, a name he didn’t recog­nise and then pur­ported to call him on his phone.

He al­legedly told the sergeant he couldn’t en­ter with­out a war­rant to which the sergeant replied that if he had com­mit­ted a bur­glary he didn’t need a war­rant to ei­ther en­ter or ar­rest him.

Sergeant McMa­hon said he asked to speak to Ley­don’s so­lic­i­tor on the phone but Ley­don re­fused.

“It’s my hon­est be­lief there was no one on the phone,” he told Judge Comer­ford.

Sgt McMa­hon took a short state­ment from the owner of the house and then con­tin­ued try­ing to per­suade Ley­don to come out of the house.

“You’ ll have to come in and ar­rest me,” Ley­don al­legedly told him.

Sgt McMa­hon and Gda O’ Toole then climbed in the front bed­room win­dow and ar­rested Ley­don.

Sgt McMa­hon said they had to “man­han­dle” Ley­don to the front door and he “re­luc­tantly” gave them a key to open it.

When it was opened, they told Ley- don they would have to hand­cuff him which prompted a 20 minute struggle with the de­fen­dant.

“We tried phys­i­cally to put the hand­cuffs on him. Bren­dan Ley­don is a very strong man. We weren’t able to put them on him,” he said.

The court heard Garda O’ Toole had to pep­per-spray the de­fen­dant in the end af­ter he con­tin­ued to re­sist ar­rest. Sgt McMa­hon also got a residue and “the three of us fell to the ground” at one point.

Ley­don con­tin­ued to re­sist un­til they ne­go­ti­ated with him: “I said if he gave me his world we wouldn’t put the hand cuffs on him and walk him down the drive­way to the pa­trol car. He gave me his word.”

The wit­ness said Ley­don fi­nally walked with them down to­wards the gate.

“As we ap­proached the gate, we both went to go over the gate. But Bren­dan Ley­don made a burst for free­dom.”

“He tried to push me off but I still had a grip on him,” Sgt McMa­hon said.

A tus­sle en­sued, with Ley­don on one side of the gate and Sgt McMa­hon still on the house side of the gate.

“I had him by the shoul­der of his gilet. Bren­dan Ley­don tried to break the grip - he raised his two hands up and came down on my hands.

“Then he made a huge lunge back­wards and pulled me to­wards the gate. My ch­est area was struck into the top of the gate. I still had a hold of him. He made an­other thrust back­wards - I was in pain,” he said.

Sgt McMa­hon was twice forcibly pulled onto the top bar of the gate, crack­ing his ribs.

With the force of the struggle, Ley­don’s gilet fi­nally ripped and “like a con­jurer he went down through the gilet and away down the dark road,” said the sergeant.

The de­fen­dant fled into the night and the in­jured sergeant couldn’t find him on the dark back roads.

Sgt McMa­hon went to hos­pi­tal and medics told him he had “more than likely cracked ribs.”

He told the court he only took one day off work but was in pain and re­stricted in his move­ments for six weeks af­ter.

Garda Fiach O’ Toole also tes­ti­fied that he had “never seen the de­fen­dant act­ing in such an irate un­con­trol­lable man­ner”, was “full of adrenalin” and “shak­ing vi­o­lently” that night.

The court heard Ley­don went to the Gar­daí on 3rd May, three days af­ter the in­ci­dent.

The jury found Ley­don not guilty of bur­glary of the house and failed to reach a ver­dict on the as­sault charge.

Judge Comer­ford ex­cused them from jury duty for five years.

The case will now go back be­fore the Cir­cuit Court for men­tion on 5 th De­cem­ber af­ter di­rec­tions are sought from the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions.

Bren­dan Ley­don leav­ing Sligo Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court last Wed­nes­day. Pic: Carl Bren­nan.

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