A FATHER of seven who denies slashing a bare-knuckle boxer in the face said he hid in fear for his life after he saw “the rage” in the bloodied man’s eyes at a traders mart in County Limerick over two years ago.
Denis Hanafin, (35) of Curry, Athlone Road, Longford denied assault causing harm to fellow market stall holder Timothy Nevin on October 28, 2013 as the traders set up their stalls at Kilmallock Mart in County Limerick.
Giving evidence in his defence against the charges of assault and producing a Stanley knife in the course of dispute, the married father of seven said that he had little interaction with the alleged injured party after he and other traders arrived at the market venue the night before the stalls were to open.
Mr Hanafin said the arrived in Kilmallock on Sunday evening of the October Bank Holiday weekend after earlier trading in Clara, County Westmeath.
Together with his son 11-year-old Denis jnr, Mr Hanafin said that Timothy Nevin invited him to the pub during a brief conversation but the Longford man declined as he told the court that he had not “taken a drink in years”.
Mr Hanafin said that he and his son later “bedded down for the night in the van” before he was awoken in the early hours by Timothy Nevin shouting and roaring on the street.
He said that he watched Timothy Nevin, of Castlemartin Green, Bettystown, County Meath, “break up John O’Brien’s van”.
“When I saw him and knew that I had nothing to do with it I just went back to bed.
“The next morning I saw that Mr Nevin was again shouting and roaring and that he had blood over his head and he said he was going to kill me.
Mr Hanafin told the court that he became “fearful” after he saw “the rage” in Nevin’s eyes.
“I gave my son to another woman who is a cousin of mine and I hid behind a behind a van and asked other stall holders to pack up my van so I could leave.
“That fella is a bare-knuckle boxer and he was in a rage and I never fought anyone in my life and I don’t want to fight anyone, I just was want to be left alone with my wife and children.”
Accepting that there was “bad blood” between some of the Hanafin and Nevin extended families, the 35-year-old accused however denied that Mr Nevin’s version of events were true. It was earlier alleged that Hanafin attacked Nevin from behind and that he slashed him with a Stanley knife in the back of the head and face,
“That is 100 per cent not true”, he told his defence counsel Lorcan Connolly.
Explaining the “history” between the two traveler families, Mr Hanafin said that Timothy Nevin made “false allegations against my father and brother that they tried to cut up Mr Nevin and shoot him”.
The father of seven further alleged that members of the Nevin family “wanted money to drop the charges, but we refused to pay. The case went to court and was dismissed”, he said.
Under cross examination by Prosecution Counsel Michael Collins, Mr Hanafin accepted that he failed to make a complaint to Gardai about the alleged threats made by Timothy Nevin adding “I don’t want to fall out with any extended members of the traveller group as we all trade together. I have not touched that man”.
When Mr Collins put it to the accused that he was “identified by Mr Nevin as being the assailant, you had motive over the bad blood and opportunity in the early morning,” the father of seven said that “no such thing happened”.
Earlier in the trial, the court heard transcripts of four 999 calls made in relation to Kilmallock Mart on the morning of the alleged knife attack.
Timothy Nevin’s brother Thomas, called 999 and told dispatchers that his brother had been cut with a knife and needed an ambulance, while a second caller said “there’s loads of them fighting on the road, they’re all killing each other. There’s a gang of 10 or 12 with slash hooks and everything.
A third caller asked Gardai about the safety of her daughter who was “trapped inside the mart”, while a staff member from a nearby petrol station wondered if Gardai were on the way to the incident.
The trial continues before Judge Tom O’Donnell.