Partner of council chief’s sister breached order after family’s fallout with father
A DUNGANNON man who attacked the elderly father of Mid and East Antrim Council chief executive Anne Donaghy in a row over the signing over of property has finally accepted he “stupidly” breached a restraining order banning contact with the victim.
Anthony James ‘Tony’ McBride (53) of Ballybeg Road was placed under the order banning any contact with Johnny Fee following convictions for assault and threatening to kill.
That particular incident occurred on February 13, 2017, when McBride punched the victim in the face, trailed him across the ground by his hair, and threatened to “put a bullet behind (his) ear”.
McBride was the partner of Mr Fee’s late daughter Geraldine, who passed away last year.
He was described by the victim as the “aggressor” sent by some family members to force him to sign over his property.
McBride rejected the allega- tions, but was convicted and sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with the restraining order.
The judge described the attack as “degrading and humiliating”.
An appeal was lodged, but while this was pending and within a matter of weeks, McBride was engaged in another encounter with Mr Fee on December 2 2017, breaching the order.
The appeal on the original charges was heard in January, at which Ms Donaghy attended in support of McBride.
She ultimately did not give evidence, as the Press challenged a previously incorrectly imposed reporting restriction banning her being named in court.
Further attempts to have this reinstated were rejected.
The appeal, which was unsuccessful, was not told McBride breached the order within weeks.
He later contested the breach in which the court, as before, heard of his embroilment in the ongoing family dispute. Mr Fee explained he and a friend pulled into a petrol station to check their vehicle.
While working at the engine, McBride appeared alongside. He did not speak to Mr Fee but addressed his friend saying: “Are you as big a man now? All you are is an a**-licker.”
McBride then pointed directly at Mr Fee and made “disgusting allegations”.
Mr Fee said: “He (McBride) and me were only out of court.
“My daughter Anne and my son Michael are all campaigning to take my place off me... I have had nothing only grief and hardship for the last three years.
“He was put up as an aggressor by Anne and Michael to get me to sign over my property.”
McBride denied the incident but was found guilty. He was jailed for two months and the existing suspended term activated, making a total of six months.
At this point Ms Donaghy issued legal letters to some Press warning them against printing anything about her, referring to “reporting restrictions”, which had in fact been rescinded.
The Press challenged this, highlighting the principles of open justice and rights to report court proceedings.
Within 24 hours Ms Donaghy’s solicitor advised she had since “terminated” her engagement.
McBride appealed the order breach sentence at Dungannon County Court, where a defence lawyer explained his client “stupidly” encountered Mr Fee in the garage forecourt.
There had been some confusion over the restraining order being active while the original case was awaiting appeal.
Judge Stephen Fowler QC said he was prepared to defer sentencing for six months.
Releasing McBride on existing bail, he sternly warned: “If there is any repetition of incidents, this case is to be immediately brought back to me.”
The case will return to court in May 2019.
❝ He was put up as an aggressor to get me to hand over my property
Mid and East Antrim Council chief executive Anne Donaghy