Farmer who assaulted neighbour (64) and accused her of stealing post jailed for 2½ years

Hugh O’Brien (52) removed from court during sentencing because of verbal outbursts

A farmer who punched and kicked his 64-year-old neighbour and falsely accused her of stealing his mother’s post over a 25-year period has been jailed for 2½ years.

Hugh O’Brien (52) had to be removed from the courtroom during his sentencing hearing because of his constant verbal outbursts.

This included him calling a testifying garda “crooked and corrupt” and suggesting that the “cop” was telling “an outrageous lie”.

Hugh O’Brien of Ballyanly, Inniscarra, Co Cork, watched the rest of the hearing by video link in another room at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.


Earlier this week he was unanimously convicted of assault causing harm to his neighbour, Mary O’Brien Daly.

Ms O’Brien Daly told the court that she thought Hugh O’Brien was going to kill her when he arrived at her home in Iniscarra, Co Cork, on December 8th, 2021.

In addition to facial and other injuries, she suffered a mini stroke and “broken heart syndrome”, a condition triggered by stress, within two days of the incident.

Ms O’Brien Daly was making Christmas puddings when Hugh O’Brien knocked at her door, made accusations, assaulted her and kicked her while she was on the ground.

She said that Hugh O’Brien arrived at her home brandishing an envelope. He then falsely accused her of stealing his mother’s post for more than two decades.

Hugh O’Brien referred to another neighbour and accused Ms O’Brien Daly of being “in cahoots with that b****cks next door”.

She said that Hugh O’Brien viciously attacked her.

“He made a drive towards me, he closed his fist, he caught me under the eye and knocked out a contact lens. He was saying – it was almost like a mantra – ‘You are making my life hell’,” Ms O’Brien Daly said.

“He struck me on the shoulder and knocked me to the ground. I began pleading: ‘Please don’t kick me in the hip.’ I have a bad hip.

“He bent down over me and caught me by the shoulders and yanked me to my feet. He had his face in on top of my face. I could feel his breath on my face. He was repeating: ‘You are in cahoots with that b****cks next door. And me, a 50-year-old virgin.’

“He kind of pushed me backwards. I got my hand on the gate and I just ran.”

Ms O’Brien Daly contacted gardaí about the incident. She also went to her doctor where she was treated for facial and other injuries.

The court heard that on occasion, post for the 91-year-old mother of Hugh O’Brien arrived at the home of Ms O’Brien Daly by mistake given the similarity of their names. She always redirected it to its rightful owner, the court heard.

Det Mick Dolan said that the attack on Ms O’Brien Daly was “completely unprovoked”.

“This incident was a sustained violent attack in broad daylight. This attack lasted six minutes,” Det Dolan said.

Ms O’Brien Daly, who lives a few doors up from the defendant, made a victim impact statement in court. She said that the attack had altered her life “irrevocably”.

“The serenity of our home of 32 years was shattered by the assault. I was his ideal victim, a middle-aged, small woman, living in a secluded place, alone and completely vulnerable,” she said.

Ms O’Brien Daly said that she was aware that the defendant had a “nasty reputation” but nothing could have prepared her for the actions of this “violent, cruel and volatile” man. She had never had any dealings with Hugh O’Brien before the incident.

Judge Colin Daly imposed a three-year sentence on the defendant, suspending the last six months of the sentence given his family circumstances. His sister had submitted a letter to the court via defence barrister Brian Leahy. She appealed for leniency in the case given that she is now the sole carer of her mother.

The judge noted seven previous convictions of the defendant, some of which were for assault. He warned Hugh O’Brien not to have any contact with the victim in the case, “direct or indirect”, following his release from custody.

Hugh O’Brien was found guilty by a jury of eight men and four women on Wednesday. When the jury left the room Hugh O’Brien shouted that they had “got it wrong – W.R.O.N.G. – I am innocent of this charge”.

The judge had remanded Hugh O’Brien in custody before his sentencing hearing given the “extraordinary contempt” he had shown the court during his trial.

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