Judge dismisses case against man accused of bottle assault

An assault charge against a man accused of firing a glass bottle directly into the face of another man causing serious injury was dismissed during a hearing at Galway District Court this week after the judge found that there was “total confusion” in the case.

Noting that there were just too many “ifs and buts” in the evidence presented to her Judge Mary Fahy dismissed the charge of assault against 20-year-old Martin O’Loughlin with an address at 19 St Finbarr’s Terrace, Bohermore, who denied the charge.

Giving evidence in court on Monday, the injured party, John Crawford, said that he had been drinking with friends in a car parked in the Shantalla area in the early hours of March 18, 2010. He said that they had all be “slagging” each other and when they got out of the car O’Loughlin had thrown a Budweiser bottle over the roof of the car and it hit him straight in the mouth, knocking out a tooth and splitting his lip.

Defence solicitor Sean Acton put it to the injured party that he had been out all day drinking and had consumed at least one bottle of Buckfast and five bottles of Budweiser. He said there had been a large number of youths gathered at the scene and questioned whether Mr Crawford was sure who threw the bottle. Mr Acton further put it to Mr Crawford that “there were verbals” and that he had called O’Loughlin a “fat bastard”. Crawford replied that O’Loughlin had called him names too and that he had seen the accused throwing the bottle.

The court then heard that it was three months later when a official statement was made to gardai. Under cross examination by Mr Acton, Mr Crawford denied that between the date of the incident and the date of the statement being given he had been persuaded by others to blame O’Loughlin. Mr Acton then pointed out that following the alleged assault Crawford presented at the hospital at 11.06pm on March 17, indicating that Crawford was unsure when the assault took place because he had been intoxicated at the time.

Garda Jim O’Brien gave evidence he had been on duty on March 17 when he received a call from a woman at 10.43pm reporting that a man had been assualted. Garda O’Brien said that the complainant did not want the gardai to attend the scene adding “that’s more a common occurance than you would believe, some people think that by reporting it that it is action enough”. He further explained he was told the injured man was no longer at the scene, that he was on his way to hospital, and that he would most likely call into the station at a later date. Garda O’Brien said O’Loughlin was arrested on September 16 and that he did not remember where he had been on the date of the incident.

When asked by Judge Fahy why he took so long to go to the Garda station to make a statement Mr Crawford replied that he had gone to the station a month or two earlier but “they weren’t really listening to me”.

After hearing the evidence presented, Judge Fahy remarked there is “total confusion in this case”. “I feel great sympathy for Mr Crawford, he sustained serious injuries, but there are too many ifs and buts, so I’m going to dismiss the charge.”

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