Medal-winning boxer jailed for assaulting businessmen

Cate McCurry, PA
·3-min read

A medal-winning Fermanagh boxer has been jailed for three years and three months for assaulting two senior businessmen two years ago.

James Bernard McGovern, 24, appeared at Cavan Circuit Court on Friday.

McGovern pleaded guilty to attacking Kevin Lunney and Dara O’Reilly causing them harm at the Apple Green Service Station in Co Cavan on February 1, 2019.

Mr Lunney is the chief operating officer and Mr O’Reilly is the chief financial officer at Mannock, formerly Quinn Industrial Holdings.

The firm was once owned by businessman Sean Quinn.

McGovern, who lives in Co Fermanagh, spent some six months in custody until he was released in December last year, following a bail application to the High Court.

Judge John Aylmer told the court that the accused was motivated by a desire to “avenge a grievance arising in relation to the victims’ performance of their duties as managers” in a business.

James Bernard McGovern arriving at Cavan Circuit Court
James Bernard McGovern arriving at Cavan Circuit Court (Brian Lawless/PA)

Judge Aylmer said the attack was “callously premeditated” and involved the use of a weapon, namely a cup of recently boiled water, which was thrown in the face of Mr O’Reilly.

He also said the “vicious” use of his fist by a fight-winning boxer caused severe injuries to Mr Lunney’s face, nose and eyes.

“Having regard to those aggravating features I place both offences in the upper end of offending,” Judge Aylmer added.

He said the mitigating features of the case put forward by defence barrister Karl Monaghan were that he was a relatively young man without any previous convictions and was “otherwise of good character”.

The judge also noted the character references provided on behalf of McGovern, which he said speak highly of the accused, included a good employment history and good future prospects.

McGovern leaving court following his sentence
McGovern leaving court following his sentence (Brian Lawless/PA)

The judge also said that he entered an early plea after he made himself available from Northern Ireland ahead of an extradition order.

However, the judge also noted the “overwhelming” case against the accused.

The court also heard that McGovern offered compensation of 1,000 euro (£855) to Mr Lunney as a token of his remorse.

However Mr Lunney, who did not appear in court, said he has no desire to receive the money and left it to the court to determine what to do with it.

The court was also told that the accused has a history of depression and paranoia.

Judge Aylmer also said that McGovern is not connected in any way to a previous attack on Mr Lunney, in which he was abducted and savagely beaten in September 2019.

The judge also said that this will be his first experience in prison, which will be “hard on him”.

McGovern was sentenced to three years and three months for assaulting Mr Lunney, and five months for his assault on Mr O’Reilly, which are to run concurrently.

Defence counsel asked if the court would consider suspending a portion of the sentence, however the judge said that it would not be “appropriate”.

Some of McGovern’s family members stood outside the courthouse waiting for the defendant to be taken to prison.

His mother attempted to hug him before he was put inside the prison van, but was prevented from doing so by gardai.