A brawl in the doorway of a house in Ballina involving five people ended up with two men and a woman being convicted for assault in Ballina District Court this week. One of those involved, Shane Downes, Behmore, Ballina, pleaded guilty to the charges in court, while Stephen Duffy, Corimbla South, Ballina, and Clara McGoldrick, 17 Church Manor, Ballina, were both found guilty of an assault. The brawl occurred at 5 The Brook, Ballina, on August 9 2008, when Duffy, Downes, and another man Keith Clarke called to the house of McGoldrick and her boyfriend Alan Delve looking for another girl who was living there.
All of those involved in the brawl admitted that there was a fist fight involving Delve and Clarke, but the reasons as to why the fight occurred and who got involved in the fight was disputed by the two sides, with Delve and McGoldrick saying that Clarke attacked McGoldrick, then Delve got involved because his girlfriend was being attacked and that he was then set on by Duffy and Downes. Downes admitted that he did assault Delve with a chimney rod during the fist fight between Delve and Clarke. Downes and Duffy told the court that McGoldrick attacked Clarke for no reason and Delve came down the stairs and joined in, and that McGoldrick also attacked Duffy. Duffy, McGoldrick, and Downes were all being prosecuted in court for their parts in the brawl.
Stephen Duffy told the court that he called to the house with Clarke and Downes as Clarke wanted to talk to the housemate of McGoldrick and her boyfriend, in relation to an incident involving Clarke’s sister. The court was told later by Inspector Joe Doherty that Clarke had successfully avoided numerous attempts to serve a witness summons on him. Duffy went on to say that McGoldrick became abusive towards him and his two companions when they called to the house and that McGoldrick swung at him and pulled a sling off Duffy’s arm, which he had broken about a month previously, and that she threw it in a bin. He also said that Delve came down the stairs of the house and started a fist fight with Clarke that lasted a short time, and that was all he saw in the incident before he, along with Clarke and Downes, left the area. The court was later told that when he was first arrested Duffy made a statement where he denied being in the area at the time and only later made another statement admitting that he was there.
Downes told the court the same story as Duffy, but added that Delve came down the stairs of the house, jumped off the stairs and hit Clarke with a flying headbutt before the two men engaged in a fist fight.
Delve told the court that he was in the bedroom of the house when he heard the doorbell go and McGoldrick went downstairs to answer it. He said a few seconds later he heard a commotion and he went down to see what was going on. He said he saw Clarke holding McGoldrick by the face against the wall and that she had a black eye. He continued that he and Clarke got involved in a fight and at one stage he felt someone kick him in the back of the legs and looked around to see that it was Duffy and that McGoldrick had pulled him away. He then went on to say that he felt what he thought was a punch in the back from Downes but after the fight had ended he went upstairs and felt a pain and when he checked it, it was a stab mark in his back which he had to go to the hospital and get stitched.
McGoldrick told the court that on the evening in question she had gone downstairs to answer the door where Clarke was standing with Duffy and Downes, and that they were looking for a girl who lived with her and Delve. She told them her housemate was not there and they could go up and check if they wanted. But they did not and Clarke blocked her closing the door with his foot and then became abusive and held her by the face against the wall and Duffy punched her, she claimed. She continued that Delve came downstairs and started to fight with Clarke, because he was holding her against the wall. She also said she saw Duffy kick Delve in the legs during the fight and that she saw Downes jab him in the back with a stabbing motion but she did not see what was in his hand at the time.
Detective Garda Noel Tighe told the court that he began investigating the incident on August 11 2008 and took statements from Delve and McGoldrick. He also told the court that he arrested Downes on August 14 and at first Downes denied being involved in the incident but in a second interview he admitted to hitting Delve in the back with a chimney rod. He also told the court at first Duffy denied being anywhere near the incident, but later on did admit to being there, but said that he was not involved in it.
Judge Mary Devins found that Clara McGoldrick had technically committed an assault, but there were mitigating circumstances as she only got involved because her boyfriend was being attacked. She gave McGoldrick the benefit of the Probation Act. In relation to Duffy, she told the court she found his evidence not credible and convicted him of an assault on Delve, and fined him €500 but made no further orders. Downes, who pleaded guilty to the assault, was convicted but Judge Devins made no recommendations as she awaits a probation report on him.