The court sitting took place before Gort District Court. 

A controversial horse racing figure has narrowly avoided prison for his assault on a farmer with a horse whip.

At Gort District Court, Judge Mary Larkin said that the assault by Stephen Mahon on farmer, John Hughes “warrants a jail sentence in the context of you can’t go beating someone over the face with a riding whip”.

Solicitor for Mr Mahon (53), Martina Moran said that Mr Mahon has no prior convictions for assault and Judge Larkin said that she would impose a suspended six month prison term on Mr Mahon.

Judge Larkin told Ms Moran, “I think your client should do an anger management course and whatever else the Probation Services direct” and suspended the prison term for 24 months.

Ms Moran told Judge Larkin there has been no contact between Mr Mahon and the other gentleman since the incident in October 2020.

The court was told previously that there was “bad blood’ between Mr Mahon and Mr Hughes arising from a 2014 incident involving the two.

Judge Larkin also convicted and fined Mr Mahon €200 for producing a horse whip in the course of a dispute which was capable of inflicting serious injury and likely to intimidate another on October 13th 2020 at the same location at Newtown, Kilcolgan, Co Galway.

Ms Moran said that Mr Mahon is a father of two children, aged seven and 11, is not working and planning to move overseas for work.

Ms Moran said that there was an issue between Mr Mahon and the other party in 2014.

In response, Judge Larkin told Ms Moran that Mr Mahon and Mr Hughes have opposing views of what happened in 2014 “and I can’t put that into the mix”.

In June of last year, Mr Mahon formerly of The Ranch, Kilcolgan, County Galway but now living in Co Meath was given the longest ban at four years ever handed out to a trainer in Ireland for breach of animal welfare rules.

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) ban imposed was reduced by six months on appeal in September of last year.

In evidence at the contested assault hearing last month at Gort District Court, Mr Hughes told the court that on October 13th 2020 on his way back from herding cattle, Mr Mahon passed him on a horse on a boreen on Mr Mahon’s way to the way to the gallops.

Mr Hughes said, “Mr Mahon went on six or seven yards and said what the f**k are you laughing at. He got down off his horse and asked what are you smiling at.

“He then let fly and hit me with the whip on the left hand side of the face just under my eye”.

Mr Hughes stated that Mr Mahon “then swung a second time. I put my hand up to protect myself and he got me on the knuckle and the left hand side of the face”.

He added, “I then rushed him. My eye was weeping like hell at this stage. I pushed him against the gate and in doing so knocked a couple of stones off a pillar”.

Mr Hughes said that “there was a bit of a struggle” and Mr Mahon got free and kicked out at him twice.

Mr Hughes said that he has been left with a scar from a whip blow and pointed out the scar on his face to Judge Larkin.

Mr Mahon denied that he assaulted Mr Hughes and in evidence alleged that Mr Hughes threw two rocks at him at the location.

In finding Mr Mahon guilty of the two offences, Judge Larkin said that it is not a case of one man’s word against another.

Judge Larkin said, “There is also the evidence of the injuries to Mr Hughes. They were viewed by Garda Phil O Donoghue on the day and they are consistent with Mr Hughes’s evidence”.

Judge Larkin said, “I am satisfied that the incident did take place as described by Mr Hughes. I found him to be a credible witness and I found Mr Mahon to be vague and possibly inventive in relation to what he said about the incident”.

Mr Mahon has 14 previous convictions but none relate to assault or public order. Six relate to the Control of Dogs Act with the remainder relating to road traffic matters.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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