A local businessman who appeared before Longford District Court last week charged with assault had his case dismissed following a full hearing into the matter.
Louis Herterich, Townspark Industrial Estate, Longford appeared before Judge Marie Keane charged with assaulting Ryan Mangan and causing him harm at Ballymahon Street, Longford on April 27, 2016.
The court heard that the case centered around an incident that began at Earl Street when two young men encountered each other.
A chase subsequently ensued down the town which ended up outside Mr Herterich’s shop on Ballymahon Street.
The first witness in the case was a 15-year-old who said that on the date of the incident he was walking with his friends along Earl Street when he encountered Ryan Mangan who was outside a local bar.
“He was drunk and he bumped into me so I ran,” the witness added.
“He chased after me and when I got to Ballymahon Street I ran into the meat shop there.”
Meanwhile, the court heard that Mr Mangan was hot on the heels of the witness at that point and the owner of the store - Louis Herterich - came out of the shop.
“I saw Louis Herterich come out of his shop and he bumped into Ryan and fell,” the witness continued.
“He got up and he hit Ryan and I ran off then.”
Under cross examination by defence solicitor Lorna Groarke, the witness said that he lived with his mother in Longford town and he had not told her about the incident until very recently.
“Why did you not tell your mother?,” Ms Groarke asked.
“She would be panicking; she would be afraid,” the young witness answered.
The court also heard that when the witness’s mother found out about the incident, she went straight to the garda station for more details.
“Do you know that your mother approached my client?”, Ms Groarke asked.
At that point Inspector Blatháin Moran interjected swiftly.
“It is unfair to question a 15-year-old about the actions of two adults,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ms Groarke said that her client believed that an attempted burglary was taking place at his premises.
“He didn’t understand that you were being chased by somebody you were in fear of,” she added.
“He thought his shop was going to be burgled.”
In his direct evidence to the court, Ryan Mangan (20) said that he knew Mr Herterich well.
He said that on the date of the incident he had been walking through Breaden’s Lane in Longford town when he met a friend and the pair decided to go for a few pints.
The court heard the friends headed for McKeon’s Bar on Earl Street and later when Mr Mangan went out for a cigarette he encountered the witness who was walking down the street with his friends.
Mr Mangan claimed that as the witness and his friends were walking past, they called one of Mr Mangan’s companions “a stiff”.
This, Mr Mangan said, meant that his companion couldn’t catch them.
“So I gave chase from McKeons down to Herterich’s shop,” continued Mr Mangan.
“Everything happened so quickly; I bumped in Louis and knocked him down and then he hit me.
“I pushed him and he fell again.”
When questioned by Ms Groarke, Mr Mangan said that it was his belief that the chase was nothing more than ‘a bit if fun’.
“My intention was to prove to [Witness] that I could catch him.”
Mr Mangan also pointed out that he could not understand why Mr Herterich did not recognise him at the shop as both men were well known to each other.
“I remember Martina, Louis’ sister shouting stop,” he continued, before pointing out that he suffered injuries following the assault and was forced to undergo root canal surgery and had a stent inserted in his mouth.
Ms Groarke then asked Mr Mangan how many pints he had that day.
“Five or six I’d say,” he replied.
Are you sure?” she continued.
“Well maybe seven or eight,” said Mr Mangan.
“Well whenever people tell me how much they had to drink, I usually add on two, so that means you has as many as 10 pints,” said Ms Groarke.
“I wouldn’t drink that many pints; I just wouldn’t be able for that amount of drink,” insisted Mr Mangan.
Meanwhile, Martina Healy then gave evidence to the court.
She said that she had been cashing up at the shop that evening when her brother Louis came in; he had been off for a few days and had been away.
She said that after she finished speaking with her brother they went to the door and as she was letting Louis out “a young fellow starting pushing on the door.”
“I kept trying to get the door locked,” she recalled before pointing out that she told the youth the shop was closed.
“He was a big tall black male that was at the door and the next thing I knew was my brother was knocked to the ground.”
Ms Healy went outside to help her brother at that point and it was then that she observed a second male.
“I saw then that it was Ryan and I said, would you please go home; I saw Louis hit Ryan once and I kept shouting at him to please go home, you are drunk.”
The court then heard that Mr Herterick received minor injuries in the assault including cut elbows and a bang to the head.
Ms Groarke then made an application to have proceedings dismissed on the grounds that the first witness had made a statement to the gardaí in the company of an adult that was not his mother and because Mr Mangan had a large number of pints at a licenced premises and believed everything to be “a joke”.
“It was the chase that caused the problem,” Ms Groarke fumed.
“It was the actions of Ryan Mangan that caused the problem.
“My client has no cause to answer.”
Judge Keane however dismissed the application and proceedings continued.
At that point Mr Herterich took to the stand.
He explained to the court that his family at been in business in Longford town since 1956.
He also stated that he had been on holidays for a week and had just returned.
He said he dropped into the shop that evening to see his sister and to catch up on how things were at the shop.
“Everything happened so fast,” he added, before pointing out that it was only when his sister came out of the shop that he realised that it was Ryan Mangan who was standing in front of him.
“I was half in the door and half out the door when a black man came banging on the door; he had a terrified expression on his face and was banging on the door.
“I thought the shop was being robbed.”
Meanwhile the court heard that in the same moment, Mr Mangan appeared and Mr Herterich was hit from the side.
“I fell back and hit my head off the ground; it was Ryan Mangan who put me on the ground,” Mr Herterich continued.
“I didn’t know it was him because I was scared and didn’t know what was going on.
“I was hit very hard, very fast and never saw it coming; I struck out because I thought I was going to be knocked back again and beaten on the ground.
“My sister came out then and I heard her saying, ‘Ryan you are drunk, go home’ and it was at that point that I realised who he was - he is a friend of my son.
“I told him to go home.”
Mr Herterich said that he hit Mr Mangan in self defence and was in fear for both himself and his sister at the time of the incident.
During her deliberations on the matter, Judge Keane found in favour of Mr Herterich.
She said it had been a most unfortunate incident.
“Two young fellas run up a street at speed and I am satisfied that it was a chasing episode,” she continued.
“There was no fear expressed by either party and the incident would not have happened were it not for the chase.”
Judge Keane went on to say that it was clear that the incident had occurred at the front door of Mr Herterich’s premises.
“Mr Herterich was at his shop door when he was hit at force and I fail to understand why Mr Mangan did not recognise Mr Herterich when he knocked him to the ground,” the Judge said.
“The reason for all of this is because Mr Mangan had too much to drink. Mr Mangan was 20-years-old and should have known better.
“Mr Herterich said he was afraid he was going to be robbed and any business premises cashing up at 6:30pm is vulnerable.
“I am dismissing the case against Mr Herterich.”