A young Claregalway man accused of assaulting his sickly uncle by punching him in the face while brandishing a knuckle duster successfully contested the charges brought against him as there were doubts over who had started the incident.
Judge Mary Fahy dismissed the assault causing harm charge brought against Jonathan Ward (20 ) with an address at 101 River Oaks, Claregalway, following a hearing at Monday’s Galway District Court as there were doubts over whether the incident at Cuileen, Headford Road, had been started by the accused or by the injured party.
Charlie Ward gave evidence under oath that on October 14, 2010, he had travelled from London, where he resides, to visit his parents and spend time with them as he had been due at the time to undergo surgery and there had been a possibility of his dying. He said he had been sitting in his parents’ house when Jonathan and his brother, Michael, came in. Mr Ward said that when he tried to stand up Jonathan suddenly came towards him, said “hello uncle” and hit him in the face, splitting him over the eye, on the nose, and lip. “I have reason to believe it was done with brass knuckles or rings,” said Mr Ward, who added that as he was bleeding heavily, Jonathan ran out of the car, threw whatever he had used in the assault into the vehicle, came back in to the house, and threatened that Charlie Ward would get a beating if he was seen around the place.
“I received three stitches in the eye, the doctor said that it was done with a weapon,” said Mr Ward, who added that he returned to England to have the planned surgery and that he had spent nearly three months in hospital.
Defence solicitor Sean Action put it to the injured party that there was a “long standing feud” going on between members of the family and that when Jonathan had been in England as a youth he had been bullied, intimidated, and frightened by his uncle.
“I’m a peace loving person, I have got no feuds with anyone. All my time is devoted to my child who has life expectancy of 20, I have no time for bullying anyone,” replied Mr Ward. Mr Acton then said that his client had simply been visiting his grandfather as he does regularly and that he had no idea his uncle was there. “They [Jonathan and his brother] went to turn and go when you got up and put your left hand on his shoulder and said ‘where you going lads? I’m the boss of you in England and I’m the boss of you here’. You hit him, he admits hitting you back, he then ran away,” said Mr Acton, to which Mr Ward replied: “They knew I was dying, and they came to try to finish me off.”
When Jonathan Ward took the stand to give evidence the court heard there had not been a good relationship between him and his uncle. He said that since they had a lot of relations living in England it was not unusual to see an English registered car at his grandfather’s house. He said that when he walked into the house he noticed his uncle there, and since he “didn’t want to be around him” Jonathan went to turn around and leave but was stopped by Charlie Ward. “Charlie was shouting and roaring. I told Michael it’s time to go because I don’t want to be killed by him... He [Charlie Ward] drew back and hit me in the lip, I hit him in the face. I never wear rings, I didn’t have a knuckle duster. We got out of the house and we never came back again,” said Jonathan Ward.
After hearing the evidence in the case, Judge Fahy said that there was a doubt over who started it and it was dismissed. She then urged all parties “if they can’t get on to stay away from one another” and not allow this long-standing feud to affect younger generations.