A man who was charged with assaulting another man in a Ballina night club was bound to the peace for 12 months at Ballina District Court by Judge Mary Devins. Gerard Langan, Tonroe, Kincon, Ballina received the benefit of the Probation Act in relation to the incident which occurred on February 10 last.
Martin Munnelly, the alleged injured party, told Judge Devins that he had a few drinks in Crossmolina on the night in question before going to Longnecks in Ballina. He was unable to recall anything of the incident other than before he was hit he had met up with some friends. He said he would have had about five or six drinks prior to going to Ballina.
He was unable to recall who hit him. He knew he received a blow to the jaw and that he hit his head off a railings but he did not know who did it. He was taken by ambulance to Mayo General Hospital and he received treatment for cuts to the back of his head and his mouth. He said it took months for the swelling to go down.
In reply to a question by defending solicitor, Mr Aidan Crowley, the witness said he had no recollection of the actual incident and he was unable to identify the person who assaulted him.
Detective Garda Leo Heaney said he received a report of an incident at Longnecks at about 1.50am. When he got there the injured party was waiting for an ambulance. After speaking to the security people there he had reason to talk to the defendant over his possible involvement in the incident. He noticed a cut on the top of his head which the defendant said that he had received after he fell in a pub in Cork. Detective Heaney said he had had reason to stop the defendant the previous night at 9.30pm and he was 100 per cent certain that the cut was not there at the time. Dt Heaney said he took pictures of the cut on the defendant’s head.
Detective Heaney took Judge Devins through a series of CCTV footage of the incident. The accused man was pictured clearly standing alongside his girlfriend. The injured party was in close proximity to some friends and Detective Heaney said it appeared from the footage that Mr Munnelly brushed against the defendant’s girlfriend and an incident ensued between the couple and Mr Munnelly. “The defendant and Mr Munnelly appeared to be up against each other and it looks like the defendant lunged forward and Mr Munnelly was knocked to the ground,” he said.
Detective Heaney said the defendant was pictured leaving the night club holding his head. He said when he spoke to him outside he was very aggressive and wouldn’t allow his girlfriend talk about what had happened. Detective Heaney said that on March 9 last, the defendant gave a memo of statement in which he replied “no comment” to all questions. He said a statement would be forthcoming through his solicitor but no statement was made.
In reply to Aidan Crowley, defending solicitor, Detective Heaney said there were about ten people in close proximity to the incident. He said no one saw the alleged assault.
Mr Crowley said there was no evidence to ground the charge. “The complainant can’t recall anything. The individuals close to the scene saw nothing and the only evidence backing up this case is the CCTV footage and there is no actual footage of the alleged assault,” he said.
Detective Heaney said his opinion was that there was an assault. Mr Crowley said the witness when giving his evidence kept using the phrases “it appears” and “my opinion” but there was no actual evidence of the assault taking place. He said the alleged injured party can’t recall anything and the video evidence is not conclusive. Mr Crowley said his client faced a serious charge and he said that on grounds of lack of evidence he was calling for a dismissal.
Judge Devins said it was an unusual situation. She said she was struck by the alleged loss of memory of the injured party. She said the medical report stated he was “alert and orientated”. Judge Devins said she was 100 per cent sure that the injured party was “very, very drunk” on the night. “He saw an attractive lady and leant against her and an altercation took place,” she said. She said the evidence was thin but it was sufficient for the case to continue.
Gerard Langan said he recalled being stopped by Detective Heaney and questioned in relation to insurance of the car he was driving at around 9pm on the previous night. He said he got out of the car and stood there for four or five minutes. He said it was dark and the area was poorly lit. He said that later on he went to Longnecks with his girlfriend. They were standing near the DJ box when the injured party came along. He was brushing up against his girlfriend and spilling drinks. “I told him to leave but he lunged at me. I pushed him away but I didn’t head butt him. I walked away from the scene of the incident and a bouncer asked me to go outside. Detective Heaney was there and he came straight at me. He never cautioned me or anything. He took a picture of my forehead and I didn’t object as it was there earlier on. He put my girlfriend under a lot of pressure to make a statement and told her parents about things that I was supposed to have done,” he said.
In reply to Superintendent Frank Walshe he said the cut on his head happened when he fell in a pub in Midleton, Cork, where he was working.
Judge Devins said that having looked at the CCTV footage and reading the medical report she was satisfied that the facts were proved but in the circumstances she would apply the Probation Act. Judge Devins also bound the defendant to the peace on his own bond for 12 months.