Witness’s nose bloodied in courthouse scuffle

An assault case which had been listed for hearing had to be adjourned yesterday after a violent scuffle broke out resulting in a witness being punched in the nose and seriously injured.

Proceedings came to an abrupt halt when a fight, involving a number of individuals and threats, erupted in the entrance hall of the Galway District Court. Moments later a man was escorted back into the courtroom with blood pouring from his nose.

The case listed for hearing later that afternoon was that of Kevin Golbey (23 ) with an address at 28 Gaelcarrig Park, Newcastle, Galway, who had been charged with two counts of alleged assault causing harm and one count of threatening and abusive behaviour. The hearing was expected to be lengthy with a number of witnesses being called to give evidence.

However both defence counsel and the prosecution were left with no alternative but to adjourn the case following a fight which broke out just before lunchtime.

While Judge Mary Fahy had been dealing with an unrelated case the attention of everyone in the courtroom was suddenly drawn to the pandemonium in the main entrance hall. Members of gardai immediately rushed out to restore order while shouts and threats could be heard clearly.

Within minutes gardai managed to break the fight up and a man, who is believed to be a relative of Golbey and a witness in the case, was escorted into the courtroom with his hand covering his bloody nose. The injured man was brought to hospital for treatment while the other man was arrested and brought to Galway Garda Station. The violent fight resulted in a trail of blood being left on the floor of the courthouse and splashes of blood on some of the gardai.

When Judge Fahy returned to the courtroom to resume proceedings she was informed by Golbey’s barrister that the hearing could not possibly go on as one of the witnesses had been “seriously injured”.

Inspector Pat McHugh also asked for the case to be adjourned saying that the incident had “put the prosecution’s case in jeopardy” and a further investigation needed to be carried out. Judge Fahy adjourned the case until February 22, 2009 for mention.

Golbey, who was on crutches, struggled with gardai as they escorted him out of the courtroom. Judge Fahy’s patience had finally worn out after she spotted a man following the defendant out and demanded to know why he was doing so. When the man made rude hand gestures to Judge Fahy he was hauled back in front of her.

“What sign did you make up to this court? You put up your finger. I’m holding you in contempt for seven days with immediate effect. He’s been going in and out, in and out, adding to what has been going on here... Anyone doing the same will get the same treatment,” she warned.

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