October 6, 2022

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A man accused of attacking Paul ‘Babs’ Connolly, who was knocked unconscious and died while on a stag night in Athlone, has been refused bail.

Mr Connolly (48), from Edenderry, Co Offaly, was seriously injured on Church Street in the Co Westmeath town in the early hours of Saturday.

Gardaí have charged Sean Munnelly (35), of Irishtown, Athlone, and David Higgins (18), of St Paul’s Terrace, Athlone, with assault causing harm to the deceased and engaging in violent disorder. Directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) are being sought.

Following a hearing on Sunday, hardware store employee Mr Higgins was granted €5,000 bail.

However, Mr Munnelly reserved his bail application until Thursday when the case resumed at Mullingar District Court.

Citing the seriousness of the case and flight risk concerns, Detective Sergeant Kevin Craig objected to bail.

He told Judge Alan Mitchell it was alleged Mr Munnelly assaulted Mr Connolly on Church Street. The deceased had attempted to leave the street and return to his hotel, but Mr Munnelly allegedly followed and assaulted him.

The contested bail hearing was told Mr Connolly “did not have an opportunity to defend himself” before he went to the ground and “never regained consciousness”.

Questioned by defence barrister Niall Flynn, the detective sergeant agreed that the co-accused was released on bail.

He accepted it was the State’s case that another person interacted first with Mr Connolly, who received blows and kicks.

It was alleged Mr Munnelly became involved in the ongoing altercation and then tried to “broker peace”.

The court heard he shook hands with a friend of the deceased, but Mr Connolly would not accept his hand.

During exchanges with counsel, the detective sergeant agreed it was alleged Mr Connolly was then followed by Mr Munnelly and there was “essentially a one-punch assault”.

The court heard he was standing with his hands at his side and an “unprovoked attack” caused him to fall.

Gardaí have harvested CCTV footage from the vicinity, the court heard. However, a pathology report has not yet been completed.

Mr Munnelly had €1,400 on him when later arrested and €90,000 in the bank. However, the officer agreed the accused had ties to the community.

His mother, a sibling and his pregnant partner were present for the hearing.

Pleading for bail, Mr Flynn argued there was no evidence his client was a flight risk and told Judge Mitchell that Mr Munnelly would obey “strict” bail terms.

Judge Mitchell refused bail and remanded him in custody to appear again at the same court on September 1st.

Mr Munnelly, who is unemployed and has been granted legal aid, spoke only to confirm he could see and hear the proceedings.

The co-defendant, Mr Higgins, has taken up his bail, which the court set on Sunday in his bond of €2,500 with a €2,500 independent surety.

Judge Mitchell remanded him on continuing bail to appear at Athlone District Court on October 5th for directions from the DPP to be obtained.

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