A former inter-county Dublin footballer has gone on trial accused of breaking an off-duty garda’s jaw during a league match in Glasnevin nearly two years ago.
Brendan McMenamin (30), of Cypress Downs, Templeogue, has pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Garda Enda Ledwith at Na Fianna GAA Club, St Mobhi Road, on March 31, 2012.
The trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the incident took place during the last ten minutes of a Division 1 league match between St Jude’s and Na Fianna.
Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, told the jury that Mr McMenamin later claimed Garda Ledwith had hit him in the testicles before the incident.
Garda Ledwith, a former Longford player, refuted that allegation and said he would have hit him at chest height but not in the testicles.
“I wouldn’t stoop so low. I’ve never, ever done that,” he said.
Giving evidence to the court, Garda Ledwith said his jaw was fractured in two places during the incident and he had to have surgery and get metal plates inserted.
He said he did not file a complaint until he was approached by gardaí and told that Mr McMenamin had made allegations of an assault.
Garda Ledwith said he had been playing in the right corner back position and was marking the accused, who he knew from previous matches, for the whole game.
He said the game had been very innocuous and had passed off without incident “with no real slagging or cursing” until ten minutes from the end when both players collided.
Garda Ledwith said the ball was in the other end of the field and that their paths had simply crossed, which he said happens commonly when marking someone.
He said Mr McMenamin punched him in the chest and he pushed him back as hard as he could and told him to “Fuck off”.
Garda Ledwith said that up to that point it was “handbags more than anything else”, adding that Gaelic football is a “physical game” and that these things happen.
But he said Mr McMenamin then “seemed to snap” and started throwing punches at him, making contact with his face at least twice.
“His demeanour changed, to become more pumped up or aggressive,” said Garda Ledwith.
He said blood started to pour from his mouth and he went down on his hunkers and put his hand up to his mouth and felt that his teeth had caved in.
Garda Ledwith said Mr McMenamin was roaring at him but he doesn’t remember what he said, and that the accused was then given a straight red card and sent off.
The alleged victim said another member of the St Jude’s team then pulled him up and said “Get up, get up, it’s only a league match.”
The team physio gave Garda Ledwith an icepack and he told her “My f**king jaw is broken,” and got into an ambulance.
Garda Ledwith said the accused put his head into the ambulance and apologised, saying something like, “Look, I’m sorry for what happened, these things happen on the pitch and stay on the pitch.”
Garda Ledwith said he just pulled his jacket over his head as he was in shock and didn’t want to interact with the accused.
He spent three days in St James Hospital and later underwent surgery to get three plates in his jaw and one tooth extracted to facilitate screws.
Garda Ledwith said he still had numbness on the left side of his jaw and that his jaw locks up in times of stress.
The jury were shown footage of the match taken by both Na Fianna and St Judes.
Among the witnesses to be called during the trial are the former Dublin County Manager Paul Caffrey, and former member of Dublin County Board, John McNichols.
The jury heard that Mr McMenamin works as a sales rep for Pallas food company, which distributes food to the catering trade.
Before the jury was sworn in, Judge Patricia Ryan warned any potential jurors that they should not serve if they have a strong interest in GAA matters or any involvement in Na Fianna or St Judes.
The case continues before Judge Ryan and a jury of nine men and three women. It’s expected to last until early next week.