The pig farmer who falsely imprisoned two repo men and threatened to throw them naked into a pen with a black boar has said that he was only trying to protect the lives of his 3,000 pigs and a maternity unit for sows.
Donal Connaughton had run into financial difficulties on his Co. Longford homestead at the time of the incident and his company JAC Pigs Ltd owed creditors €2.3million.
Today the farm is empty, the animals have been sold and the gates of the piggery are firmly locked.
Two judgments have been registered against his company – one from 2011 when Devenish Nutrition Limited registered they were owed more than €55,000, and another from 2013 when Jones Oil Limited told the commercial court they were owed more than €4,000.
“We had expansion plans, then the price of pig meat went down and the price of feed went up. I was caught,” says Connaughton (54). “I spent all my life working every hour on that farm. The pigs are all gone now. But, sure, we’ll see.”
Connaughton has been found guilty of two counts of false imprisonment, two charges of threatening to cause serious harm, one of assault and two of criminal damage and is due to be sentenced in September.
But still he remains convinced he will not spend a day in jail, claiming he has evidence “of corruption at the highest level”.
“I’m not ready to tell my whole story yet, but when I do it will be sensational. You mark my words, I have evidence of corruption right at the top now,” he said.
In the yard of his home in Newtowncashel in south Longford, flanked by wife Margaret and a group of workers, Connaughton remained resolutely upbeat and suggested he still has a card up his sleeve that will prove he has been wronged.
Despite an earlier attempt by his defence team to claim jury misconduct and a subsequent investigation of the claims by the DPP, no evidence was found.
“There’s not a jail in all the land that will hold me,” said a defiant Connaughton at his fortress home this week. “I have evidence that will show corruption from the highest level.”
Connaughton was due to be sentenced this week, but his defence asked for the case to be adjourned as his counsel were unable to attend due to an “unforeseen difficulty”.
Judge Tony Hunt agreed to a request to adjourn the sentencing to September, having earlier warned there will be no more “Lannigan’s Ball” for Connaughton.
This week, the farmer was in fighting form as he dismissed a possible maximum life sentence that is hanging over his head.
He is adamant he had a right to protect his property against the two repo men, Patrick Mulvey and Justin Tighe, employees of Assets Security in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, who arrived in April 2010 to seize a generator which Connaughton says was the lifeblood of his farm.
“I had 3,000 pigs being looked after through that generator and a full maternity unit going where 50 sows a week were giving birth. If the generator was taken I’d have had no way of feeding them. It kicked off over the welfare of the pigs,” he said.
Mulvey and Tighe told the court that they had feared for their lives after going to the farm when an altercation broke out as they tried to repossess items on behalf of GE Money. They said that after they arrived at the house, Mulvey got out of the truck, while Mr Tighe stayed in the vehicle.
Mulvey said he was kicked and punched on the farm. In evidence, he said the farmer told them they would be “lucky to get out alive”.
“He said to us we had met the devil and told me he would take my head off and eat it. He said if we were willing to strip we could walk down the road naked,” said Mr Tighe.
Mr Tighe said Mr Connaughton instructed one of the farm workers to bring out a boar and “fire her up”. He said the animal was prodded and became agitated. He said the farmer asked which of them was man enough to get into the pen. Both men feared they would be violated by the pig.
Mr Tighe said they pleaded with Mr Connaughton to let them go. He said he would if they got on their knees and recited the Our Father, which they did.
Mr Connaughton alleged he had been assaulted as he was walking down the yard and that his wife suffered a hand injury.
“It was made out as if I put them in the pen with the boar. But I didn’t. I just threatened that. And they said it was a ‘wild’ boar. It wasn’t wild. It was just a boar,” he said.
Connaughton’s wife Margaret was also before the courts in relation to charges, but was found not guilty on all counts.