Boxer jailed for Mannok boss attack


A Fermanagh boxer has been jailed for over three years for assaulting two senior businessmen at a Cavan filling station two-years-ago.

James Bernard McGovern (24). broke businessman Kevin Lunney's nose and left him with potentially lasting damage to one eye.

McGovern, otherwise known as Bernard McGovern, pleaded guilty this month to assaulting the Mannok chief operating officer, causing him harm at Rakeelan filling station, near Ballyconnell, on February 1, 2019.

He also pleaded to a lesser charge of assaulting Dara O'Reilly, chief financial officer at the same enterprise, businesses once founded by ex-tycoon Sean Quinn Sr.

He has been sentenced to three years and three months for assaulting Mr Lunney, and five months to be served concurrently for the attack on Mr O'Reilly.

McGovern, with an address at Springtown Road, Kinawley, first threw a cup of scalding tea in Mr O'Reilly's face before hitting Mr Lunney up to seven or eight times, knocking him to the floor, Cavan Circuit Court was told.

Evidence was given that the attack occurred the day after McGovern’s father Séan had his employment as a truck driver with Quinn Industrial Holdings, rebranded as Mannok, terminated.

The Rakeelan filling station, near Ballyconnell.

McGovern, just 22-years-old at the time, was sitting in the filling station café a short distance from the two businessmen after they first arrived shortly around 1:15pm.

McGovern got up, asked for a fresh pot of boiling water, then poured himself a cup before the Ulster title-winning amateur boxer launched his attack during the height of the lunchtime rush-hour.

Despite the best efforts of others present to restrain McGovern, the defendant was able to flee the scene.

Neither Mr Lunney nor Mr O'Reilly provided victim impact statements. However Mr Lunney said he bears McGovern “no ill will” following the attack.

While shocked and upset at the time, Mr O'Reilly also expressed a desire to put the matter behind him. He hoped McGovern would “get on with his life too in a socially positive manner.”

For clarity, it was stated to the court that McGovern had no involvement in incidents in September 2019, when Mr Lunney was abducted near his Fermanagh home and his tortured body dumped on a rural Cavan backroad.

Karl Monaghan BL, instructed by John M. Quinn solicitors in Dublin, acting for the defence, stated that his client was remorseful for his actions.

A “gesture” of €1,000 was offered to Mr Lunney by way of compensation, which the businessman said could be donated to charity if the court so directed.

McGovern spent almost five months behind bars at Castlerea prison after first being taken into custody in June last year, and up until he successfully applied for High Court bail two days before Christmas.

Judge John Aylmer described the attacks as being at the "upper end" of scale of such offending.

He also described the attack as "callous" and "premeditated".

The judge was asked by McGovern's counsel if consideration could be given to suspending a portion of the sentenced handed down, but he replied given all the factors of the case, that such leniency would not be "appropriate".