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30/07/2021

Judge declines to rule on serious Ballymahon double assault

Tipperary District Court

A judge has refused to hear a case of a Donegal man accused of assaulting a publican and his brother during a late night incident in Ballymahon, deeming the incident as too serious to be dealt with at District Court level.

Judge Seamus Hughes refused jurisdiction at last week’s sitting of Longford District Court into an altercation outside Skelly’s Pub in the south Longford town on April 15 2018.

Gavin Gallagher, of Greenhill, Dunfanaghy, Donegal was later charged with two Section 3 assaults causing harm to brothers Paul and Patrick Byrne as well as two Section 4 and 6 public order charges.

Both victims were in court last Tuesday to give details of the incident and the injuries they sustained as a result.

Paul Byrne was the first to take the stand, telling Judge Hughes how he had tried to come to his brother’s aid while attempting to eject Mr Gallagher from his pub.

During the ensuing altercation, Mr Byrne said he received a blow to the side of the head, causing him to fall to the ground.

“The two of us ended up on the ground,” he told the court.

“Gallagher jumped up and went over and attacked my brother. When he seen me coming over, he kicked me on the side of the head.

“I fell and broke my shoulder which put me out of action.”

Mr Byrne said despite being in significant pain and managing to pull himself up but admitted to being unable to help his brother in dragging him away from Mr Gallagher.

“He was still fighting with my brother,” he said, adding that moments later customers who were inside drinking came out to break up the row.

Mr Byrne said he attended Tullamore’s Midland Regional Hospital the next day where x-rays of his damaged shoulder were taken.

His arm was placed in a sling for six weeks before Mr Byrne underwent an operation which culminated in a number of pins being inserted.

Under questioning from Judge Seamus Hughes as to the state of his shoulder in the days and weeks that followed, Mr Byrne said he had returned to see his surgeon on at least four different occasions with a similar number of appointments being made for physiotherapy sessions.

“I can’t move my arm the same as before,” he said, stating his movement levels were at around the 80 per cent mark.

A stonemason by trade, Mr Byrne said it had also hampered his ability to work on a regular basis.

“If you are lifting blocks of stone up over your head it’s not the same,” he said.

“You wouldn’t have the same strength.”

His brother, Pat, said he received a series of blows during the alleged assault, causing him to endure considerable discomfort for several weeks thereafter.

“I got a few boxes and a kick in the face,” he told the judge, saying they came via a closed fist.

“The guards have photos. I got a serious kick on the chest which left me in pain for two months.”

He too had an x-ray taken which revealed no significant injury, he said.

He did, nonetheless, receive a fracture to the tip of his nose, adding that he has since made a good recovery.

Judge Hughes, upon learning of Mr Byrne’s involvement in the licencing industry inquired as to how business was fairing in the lead up to last weekend’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

“Not too bad,” replied Mr Byrne.

“Weekends are busy enough, but it’s very quiet during the week.”

In defence, solicitor Frank Gearty said while he was not disputing the version of events put forward by both victims, the contents contained in the case file differed somewhat.

“The DPP wouldn’t have heard that evidence (oral),” he said, stating what was inserted in the court documents was “slightly more milder”.

“I’m not making a criticism of that,” Mr Gearty was keen to stress, however.

After spending brief moment to consider the testimonies of both men and charges before him, Judge Hughes refused jurisdiction.

As such, he adjourned the case until a sitting of Longford District Court on May 14 for directions and the furnishing of a “possible” book of evidence.

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