“The more the defendant was giving evidence the more he was making it up,” said Judge Kevin P. Kilrane prior to imposing a conviction for assault and a €500 fine against Jordan McCarthy, Farm Castlefield, Williamstown, Co. Galway.
Last week’s sitting of Carrick-on-Shannon District Court heard from the injured party, Jack McDermott who said on New Year’s Eve 2016 he travelled to Carrick-on-Shannon from Castlerea on a bus with friends. He said he had two pints and two or three vodkas before leaving Castlerea.
He added that he had two vodkas and 7up in Dunne's Bar when he arrived in Carrick-on-Shannon before making his way to Club 360.
Continuing his evidence Mr McDermott said he was on the dance floor with his girlfriend when one of the defendant’s friends came onto the floor and started pushing.
The court heard the individual who had been pushing on the dance floor was ejected from the premises with Mr McDermott adding that shortly afterwards Mr McCarthy approached him on the dance floor.
Mr McDermott recalled the defendant putting out his hand stating, “I thought it was to shake hands.”
Mr McDermott said he could then feel his hand being squeezed before he was struck with a headbutt.
“I was headbutted once. I was told it was twice but I only remember once.” Mr McDermott recalled that he was helped to his feet and was bleeding heavily. Having gone to the toilet to clean up he had to leave his T-shirt behind as a result of the amount of blood.”
He added that his girlfriend had his jacket and they then went to get food before returning home.
Mr McDermott said he encountered the defendant once more that night, on the bus home to Castlerea.
“A few of his friends said to him to apologise. He walked past me on the bus and said 'sorry about that man'.”
Mr McDermott added that he subsequently visited the hospital and dentist in relation to the injuries he sustained.
Under cross-examination from defending solicitor Niamh McGovern it was put to Mr McDermott that he was looking to fight Mr
McCarthy and that the defendant was left with no option but to hit back.
In reply Mr McDermott said, “No, that is not correct.”
Continuing her cross-examination Ms McGovern stated, “You had an altercation with Mr McCarthy. You hit Mr McCarthy and he hit you back.”
Mr McDermott denied this suggestion saying, “I’m well able to handle a drink. I know exactly what happened.”
Rachel Harte, the girlfriend of Mr McDermott at the time of the incident, gave her version of events saying, “There was a lot of people from Castlerea on the dance floor. All of a sudden Jack turned his back and Jordan headbutted him. I left when I saw all the blood.”
Ms Harte attempted to locate Mr McDermott afterwards and was told by a member of the security staff that he was not in the first aid room. After ringing his phone twice they met at the cloakroom and left the premises.
Under cross-examination it was put to Ms Harte that she had pushed Mr McCarthy on the dance floor to which she replied, “I put my hands up. He was pushing against Jack, I said don’t push him.”
Ms Harte added, “Jack said to me when his hand was being squeezed if anything happens just go. I couldn’t hear what was being said with the noise.
“I saw Jordan headbutting him, Jack fell against me. He headbutted him again, he fell down. I got scared and left.”
Gda Mary Burke gave evidence that she received a report relating to the incident from Castlerea Garda Station on January 12 and she then made contact with the defendant to get his version of events.
A memo of interview with Jordan McCarthy was read in court by Gda Burke.
Giving his version of events during the interview Mr McCarthy said, “It started when Jack was on the dance floor. One of my friends was very drunk and Jack pushed him away.
“Jack ran up to me and said who is he here with. I said F off, it’s nothing to do with me and walked off.”
Mr McCarthy said he left the dance floor for 10-15 minutes and when he returned Ms Harte was pushing him with both hands.
“I knew that he got into a lot of fights in Castlerea. He grabbed my two hands and said do you want to fight me. He swung and punched me into the left side of the face while holding my right hand.
“I hit him back. I punched him to the nose. The bouncer came and threw him out.”
Mr McCarthy said that he did not intend to cause any harm and apologised to Mr McDermott on the bus with the injured party also apologising.
The memo of interview also heard the defendant didn’t believe the incident to be serious saying, “I didn’t think it was that bad. Shot like that always happens.”
A number of witnesses named by Mr McCarthy during his memo of interview were contacted by Gardai but none were willing to give evidence.
Giving direct evidence Mr McCarthy said he had no drink taken before leaving Castlerea and upon arriving in Carrick-on-Shannon went straight to Club 360 where he said he had two pints of Heineken.
When asked why his friends weren’t present in court Mr McCarthy replied, “They didn’t think it was that much of a big deal.”
Mr McCarthy acknowledged he was wrong during his interview when he stated Mr McDermott was ejected from the club but insisted everything else in the memo was correct.
Under questioning from Insp Denis Harrington it was put to Mr McCarthy that Ms Harte had her hands up in an attempt to calm him.
In reply Mr McCarthy said, “She kept pushing me. I didn’t feel threatened.” He added, “I didn’t need to be calmed down. I didn’t even have that much to drink.”
Insp Harrington added, “I put it to you she felt the need to do that to prevent you getting into a fight with her boyfriend.”
In reply Mr McCarthy added, “No.”
When asked why he apologised on the bus if he did nothing wrong, Mr McCarthy replied, “I didn’t want any bad blood. Stuff like that happens in nightclubs all the time.”
Mr McCarthy said as he was a trained fighter his punches “are going to be a lot stronger.”
Insp Harrington then asked how a trained fighter could allow himself to be punched, Mr McCarthy replied, “I don’t know. I wasn’t expecting it.”
The defendant's girlfriend, Leah McLoughlin also gave evidence stating Mr McCarthy did punch Mr McDermott but only after he had been struck first.
Having heard the evidence Judge Kilrane imposed a conviction saying, “He (defendant) approaches the matter on a basis of ‘it’s not that serious.’
“He says it happens all the time, that’s his attitude, heaven forbid that was everyone’s attitude.”
Judge Kilrane added the defendant suffered “facial, nose and mouth injuries. I am satisfied they were not caused by a punch but by a headbutt. He says once, his girlfriend says twice.
“The more the defendant gave evidence the more he was making it up as he was going along with a combination of truth, half-truth and lies.”
Outlining her client’s circumstances Ms McGovern said, “He would have hopes of joining the army, this is not going to help. He has issues with substance abuse which he tackled himself.”
Dealing with the matter by way of compensation was considered but the defendant said he was not interested in receiving compensation.
Judge Kilrane ruled as outlined.