The Disturbing Case of Padraig Nally
Injustice Wins This Round
The countryside of County Mayo, in the west of Ireland, is one of the more peaceful places in Ireland. Life is lived at the slow, friendly pace typical of the Irish countryside.
But Padraig Nally, a 61 year old farmer living alone did not get to enjoy much rural tranquility. His farmhouse was burgled repeatedly, and not much was being done about it. He grew frightened and paranoid, and had resorted pouring water on the soil by his front gate so as to obtain footprints of any intruders.
On October 11, 2004, one Thomas Ward came up to Nally's house asking about buying a Nissan car. While this conversation was taking place, Thomas' father John Ward, snuck into the back of Nally's house.
Nally went back into the hay shed and produced a shotgun and shot the intruder when he emerged from the house. A violent stuggle ensued, in which Ward was hit 20 times with a stick. It's said that Nally went back to the hay shed , reloaded, and then followed Ward down the road, and shot him again, killing him.
On November 11, Nally was convicted and given a sentance of six years. This man, who has never been in trouble with the law in his life, sits in prison today.
This case has been the cause of great debate in Ireland. The judge said that it was "most difficult sentencing matter I’ve had to deal with in 14 years in this court". Nally has great support from his neighbors, who I think see this as an open and shut case of a man defending his property. Or as the case of a good man pushed to the brink of sanity by the repeated break-ins, someone who was so overcome by fear and the terror having his home invaded again and again and again that lost it under the circumstances.
The other side sees this as a case of vigilante justice, of someone who chased a criminal out of the house , reloaded the gun, and decided to execute the wrongdoer.
This is a disturbing case. If Nally was thinking clearly, then his actions in re-loading the weapon and shooting Ward the second time are probably wrong in that supposedly Ward was a beaten man and was allegedly in the process of leaving.
But, if Irish law requires, as it does in America that you be guilty " beyond any doubt ", that raises the question of the Nally's state of mind. It appears that he was terrorized out of his mind by the break-ins and by the flow of events that day. The accounts of the police that day verify this.
What I hear leads me to believe that an injustice was done in the Castlebar court. Nally should have been acquitted.
By the way, this John Ward was a career criminal, a lowlife with 26 convictions. Someone whose last act on earth was leading his son into an act of theft of a farmer living alone. Now we hear about what a loving father and great guy the twenty six time loser was.
If you want to read more on this, you can look at an unsympathetic commentary from a Kerry paper, a thread from a discussion group.
There will be continuing debate and information on the United Irelander site , whose author has championed Mr. Nally's cause. And rightfully so.
Also, there is a Padraig Nally support website that you can keep an eye on.