Seymour Sweeney convicted of common assault

It appears that Seymour Sweeney has been convicted of assaulting a man on private property near the Giant’s Causeway. Mr. Sweeney seems likely to appeal his conviction. If commenting: remember the laws of libel.

  • willis

    On first reading I think Mr Sweeney’s appeal will be successful.

  • Dewi

    Nevin ?

  • Dewi, I’ve got nothing to add to what was said in the BBC news report.

    Did you see Seymour’s little piece of good news today? His DUP ‘acquaintance’, Arlene Foster, isn’t going to chastise him for failing to seek planning permission. Perhaps they’re ‘all out of that DUP mould’, a term he used in BBC NI Spotlight programme.

  • [aside]Dewi, the ‘lazy’ journalists haven’t sorted the contradictory claims relating to Sweeney, Paisley jnr, the DUP office in Ballymena and Sarcon (No 250) Limited.

    Junior claimed (post #13) that his father-in-law, James Currie, became a director of Sarcon at the time the premises were mortgaged ie 3 July 2007. Currie’s and Sweeney’s papers weren’t lodged with Companies Registry until 21 February 2008 and they were both dated 24/10/2007. These papers are supposed to be lodged within 14 days of a change of directorship.

    Can we expect Dodds, the DETI minister, to bring some sort of order to this shambles? The minister talked about the need for a world class visitor centre at the Giant’s Causeway yet he’s presiding over a companies registry that’s seemingly not fit for purpose.

  • wild turkey

    ‘On first reading I think Mr Sweeney’s appeal will be successful. ‘ It very well might be so Willis, though the wheels of justice turn slow and queer

    ‘If commenting: remember the laws of libel.’

    I will try Turgon.

    Nevin et al. In the past I have taken a ‘questioning’ view of Mr Sweeneys transactions and business relationships. that still stands. However, to totally confuse recent threads, if Mr Sweeney had been resident in West Belfast and confronted, in the manner alleged in the report, trespassers on what is purported to be ‘private’ property, would he be a hero or villian?

    In all honesty, I do not know. Regardless, what does seem clear from the report, ie
    ‘Two police officers and a doctor that all examined Mr Cunning’s neck in the wake of the incident said they could not see any visible signs of injury.’ there does seem to be lacking evidence of physical/mortal violence. a violence which has recently been so an issue in other locales as evidenced in other threads on this site.

    ‘If commenting: remember the laws of libel.’

    I may be wrong, indeed i await the trash talk, but i suspect both parties in a fundamental sense are both innocent of any serious criminal offenses and the matter should be laid to rest….
    however, I do defer to the insight of Nevin and others on this issue.

  • Harry Flashman

    Mr Cunning said: “Mr Sweeney grabbed me by the neck with his two hands and shook me like a rag doll,”

    The article states: “Two police officers and a doctor that all examined Mr Cunning’s neck in the wake of the incident said they could not see any visible signs of injury.”

    In such a ‘he said/she said’ situation it would have been appropriate for the case to be thrown out, I too suspect Mr Sweeney’s appeal will be successful.

  • Paul Michel

    It seems like Mr Sweeney defends his territory zealously against all comers. Although strangely I did hear that several years ago he detained a fire appliance that had gone through the open gates to turn around. The gates were closed when the fire engine returned, and the way was barred by Mr. Sweeney, who apparently asked the people in the big red fire engine who they thought they were! The fire engine could not proceed about it’s lawful business for some time, although in hindsight it sounds like the Portrush Firemen were very lucky

  • Paul, that is one of several stories in similar vein that have come to my attention. According to the Grapevine, a fireman volunteered to lift the massive gates from their hinges. I presume that expedited the departure of Big Red! Perhaps we’ll read more about this curious escapade in the pages of the Belfast Telegraph – or the Sunday World!!

    I wonder if he’s ever been tempted to grab Ian ‘I know of him’ Paisley jnr by the throat as the latter’s ‘coyness’ brought the developer and his activities more into the public domain than he might have wished. The ‘big bucks’ investors in Seaport (NI) Limited may also not have relished the exposure.

    Christine Alexander, an independent Coleraine Borough councillor, ended up at the wrong end of a massive fine for trespass (post #15) after standing on ground that many would have considered common land. [cf other councillor fine post #24]

    I understand that the Ballymoney Times journalist who was covering the Blackside protest in 1999 was prevented from entering the site. Perhaps it was feared that he would spot the bathroom fittings that had mysteriously appeared in the old piggery and would question the basis of the planning application.

    Isn’t it amazing that none of our public representatives, local planning officials and the Planning Appeals Commission apparently spotted the glaringly obvious, the non-presence of two dwellings? If Arlene Foster spotted the ‘world class’ hole in the ground that still exists and the absence of new build she might not have been ‘minded’ to accept the developer’s proposal for a new visitor centre at the Giant’s Causeway so readily!!

    PS It’s been a depressing few months for IPJR. I’m hearing from some of the neighbours that someone left a tap running at his second home in Ballyallaght Farm Cottages and the property was flooded.

  • “Sweeney, 56, was also fined £500 after a magistrate at a court in Coleraine found him guilty of grabbing a man.” BBC link

    Just a thought. Why did Christine Alexander receive such a punitive fine? She didn’t assault anyone; her offence, if any, would appear to have been a very trivial one. Perhaps our courts service ought to revisit the case …

  • WT, here’s a bit more from the Belfast Telegraph:

    ” Mr Sweeney, however, said he had driven to the estate after residents had raised serious concerns about two strangers who were walking in and around the entrance to private apartments on the estate.

    Sweeney said the couple had ignored repeated requests to leave before he even arrived, after driving from his nearby office, and they still refused to go when he told them.

    “I didn’t know what they were doing there, whether they were casing the joint or planning to come back and take some items of value,” he said.

    He also refuted the claim he had used abusive language.

    “There was no ranting and raving, I’m simply not that kind of person,” he said.

    Sweeney conceded he placed his hands on Mr Cunning but said the contact was minimal and he believed he was within his rights as a landowner protecting his property.”

    I wonder how many local people would believe Seymour’s version of events; the magistrate didn’t. Note also the stories about the fire engine that was allegedly locked in (above) and the razor-wire topped cage around the adjacent fisherman’s cottage that the developer purchased a year or two ago from the Macnaghten family.

    On a general point, an acquaintance of mine was amazed to see so many private signs in that part of the Causeway Coast. I’ve never felt the need to turn away visitors from my humble abode. Nor has the dog!!

  • jerryp

    There is talk elsewhere about the possibility of the SDLP merging with Fianna Fáil. I think FF should align with the DUP. They seem to have so much in common !

  • [Sweeney] said a number of people with high profile jobs lived in grounds and earlier in year the PSNI had been called after another security breach.

    Does anyone have access to an electoral roll or other list of residents that we may know of these exalted beings, and their need for security?

  • barnshee

    I have to say Sweeney in person is fairly insignificant in stature. I have no idea about the size of the other protagonist but it would seem rash to lay on hands where the nature of the other individual is unknown.
    What was he thinking of?

  • “earlier in year the PSNI had been called after another security breach.”

    This sounds a bit melodramatic, Malcolm. I’ve put together a few images that I’ve acquired to shed some light on this security.

    #10 is Ardihannon House, just inside the main gate, and #12, the Runkerry House apartments.

    #14 is the gate on the road leading down from the apartments to the slipway. Last time I looked it was locked yet there were two other gates nearby which were unlocked ie anyone could have opened them and walked up to the apartments.

    Those who might like to make a more adventurous entry could make their way past #13 with its razor wire at ground level and about three foot above ground.

    I’m told that #11 shows a break in the sewage outlet pipe that runs from the premises down to the sea and that sometimes ‘effluent’ can be seen oozing out and flowing over the rocks.

  • Thank you, as always, Nevin @ 08:13 PM.

    My quotation was from the BBC website news-item, which I ought to have acknowledged.

    I’d still like to know who are are these [self-]important folk who need such cossetting …

    … if only to avoid them.

    On the other point, sewage seems curiously appropriate. Has it been passed [ahem!] by environmental health, I hardly wonder?

  • “these [self-]important folk who need such cossetting”

    Puts me in mind of the phrase, “The affluent oozing out”, Malcolm.

  • joeCanuck

    I guess this means that he would rather that people can see less.

    So sorry, couldn’t resist it.

  • “Seymour Sweeney convicted of common assault”

    Joe, ‘common assault’ hardly seems grand enough. There’ll be no fresh turkey and boiled ham for Turgon and Elenwe this year 🙂

  • NP

    Is that the house on the point just before you get to Portballintrae coming from the East ?
    If so me and me mates have been cutting across its sacred lawns for years to get to the bar after a north coast hike.

    Jesus ! we didn’t realise we were risking so much………”shaken like a rag doll”

    just as well we were all experts in advanced camoflage…….

  • Jo

    What was the time of day of this incident?

    Surely the court report would reveal this.

    I understand that Mr Sweeney has attended residents association meetings when his demeanour *suggested* to those present that this sort of inscident was not untypical.

  • NP

    Thanks Nevin… im assuming rightly that we were lucky in escaping the “rag doll” treatment ?
    Maybe we were lucky not to catch the “sweeney season” as we always walk the north coast in winter.

  • NP, check out the Foster letter via the link in post #3. There’s a mention of the path around the Runkerry headland in paragraph 3. This path is or was labelled Ulster Way.

  • NP

    aye, if i remember its fenced off along the coast, so you are forced to trespass across yer mans sacred lawns. To be honest id always assumed that we were slying over the grounds of a mental health centre. It has that 19th century asylum feel to it. full of nutters….

  • It’s not fenced off, NP, you can walk all the way round the cliff path from Black Rock Strand to the Causeway Hotel. The path passes between Runkerry House and the former fisherman’s cottage.

  • Turgon

    Stupid question maybe but what is the history of Runkerry House? I take it the house is now appartments with Sweeney owning the grounds or something similar?

  • Turgon, Art Ward has a potted history of Runkerry House here. Leave out the section about the Talon Group; it’s a separate development between Runkerry House and Bushmills.

    The property might well be owned by Seaport (NI) Limited, one of whose directors is Seymour Sweeney. He gives his address as Ardihannon House – see photo post #14.

  • Paul Michel

    Interesting Google Earth link, Nevin. It looks like Google has used a new aerial photograph which has improved the resolution greatly. I was especially interested in the labelling, maybe if James Cunnings’ team had looked closely they could have seen that Eric Schmidt – 129th richest person in the world, has opened the gates of Fawlty Towers. Runkerry Road apparently terminates in the back yard of Ardihannon House, and the car park of Runkerry House – was Mr. Cunning in either of these locations? Could Mr Schmidt be called as a witness at the appeal? Has Lord Justice McCollum now been satisfied that Runkerry Road does indeed extend beyond the security gates? Will Carson and McDowell be dragged into action once again????

  • Paul, are you referring to an earlier case in court involving ‘Seymore‘? Will Google Earth be prosecuted for ‘misadministration’? I think we should be told!!

    “From such records as exist it is clear that no intention to dedicate was ever formed although there was a willingness to recognise any right that may have properly existed.

    Mr Bustard was unsure of the position and took advice which was to the effect that limited classes of individuals could not be refused access to the avenue but throughout his period of duty at the centre he was prepared to exercise what he understood to be his right to deny access to the avenue to anyone other than the groups entitled to access.

    In my view therefore there has not at anytime been a dedication to the public either expressly or by implication of any part of the avenue from the Clachan towards Runkerry House nor has any part of the way from the avenue to the river been so dedicated.

    The steps and pathway from the riverbank to the gap in the hedge are adequately explained by the usage of that way in the past by employees of the MacNaghten family, then by residents in the old people’s home and later by those using the premises as an outward bound centre.

    Accordingly I make an order in the terms sought in the statement of claim.” … McCollum LJ

    [cf Wind in the Willows: “`There’s Toad Hall,’ said the Rat; `and that creek on the left, where the notice-board says, “Private. No landing allowed,” leads to his boat-house, where we’ll leave the boat. The stables are over there to the right. That’s the banqueting-hall you’re looking at now–very old, that is. Toad is rather rich, you know, and this is really one of the nicest houses in these parts,though we never admit as much to Toad.’]

    We also have a physical description of Toad: “just then a wager-boat flashed into view, the rower–a short, stout figure–splashing badly and rolling a good deal, but working his hardest.” Hmmmmm

  • Back to first principles:

    The fullest account I can find is that given by the BBC website.

    Sweeney seems to have admitted that:

    he only briefly placed his hands on [Mr Cunning’s] shoulders and politely told him to leave.

    I note “hands” and “shoulders”.

    In common law (which I assume is being applied here):

    assault is the tort of acting intentionally and voluntarily causing the reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact.

    Since Sweeney clearly intended his actions, Cunning (a very unfortunate surname, I feel) had good reason to feel apprehension.

    Surely: case proven.

  • observer

    Isn’t it amazing how the DUP has managed to distance itself so well from all the reported business affairs of Mr Sweeney involving their party members. I would have thought that at least one public represenative, or maybe even three, would have appeared as character witnesses. Probably held back for the appeal! The one reassuring thing in life is that what goes around tends to come around.

  • Jo

    Does he have a perm? 🙂

  • The Raven


    No. He just loves Slade.

    Me and two other lads are going to make a bit of a pilgrimage to this spot over the summer. We want to see what it’s like to be shaken like a rag doll.

    Of course, the three of us are demonstrably taller and wider than Mr Cunning, so we concede that we may not be able to experience the full rollercoaster effect of Mr Sweeney’s kung-fu grip.

    We look forward to a sunny day in June…

  • JCB2003


    “Small (in stature) man syndrome” springs to mind . . was Toad not a small man with a big ego? Not sure if he had a perm though?

  • “the DUP has managed to distance itself so well”

    Observer, it’s lost a leader and his son in the process and the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre debacle has yet to be resolved.

  • JCB2003, ‘short man, shorter fuse’ comes to mind too.

  • BonarLaw

    Malcolm Redfellow

    This is a criminal prosecution and s.42 of the Offences of the Person Act 1861 is the relevant legislation :

    “42. Any person who unlawfully assaults or beats any other person shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall, upon complaint made by or on behalf of the party aggrieved or by a police officer or constable, be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding [level 3] in addition to any costs which the court may order him to pay.”

    “unlawful” is the key concept where a defendant admits to some contact.



    The DUP may have lost their leader but there has not been one word of criticism of all the goings on in North Antrim from the leader elect or any of the many DUP figures who like to hear themselves speak. Like I said they have done a good job of distancing themselves from it all.

  • Observer, I presume you mean the DUP MP and MLA who has a shareholding in a property development company. Perhaps he’s keeping his head down in case the media do a little investigating in his patch 😉

    PS Is Fred Frazer still a major developer? Would any DUP MLA’s know of him? 😉