'Racist remarks' claim as man pays €5,000 compensation for referee assault

Soccer referee suffered broken jaw during match

Court Reporter

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Court Reporter

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Soccer referee Daniel Sweeney pictured in hospital after being assaulted

A man who admitted breaking a midlands referee's jaw in a soccer match has paid €5,000 compensation towards the victim.

It was claimed at Tullamore Circuit Court today (Tuesday, June 16) that the incident at the match on November 11, 2018 arose out of racist remarks made towards the defendant, Dean Dinnegan.

Twenty-two-year-old Mr Dinnegan pleaded guilty in March to assaulting Daniel Sweeney, causing him harm, at Horseleap, Co Offaly.

He also admitted producing a golf club on the same occasion and sentencing was adjourned to this week for a probation report.

Judge Karen Fergus was told this morning that the report was not before the court because of the Covid-19 pandemic and defence counsel Niall Flynn applied for sentencing to be adjourned.

Mr Flynn also said Mr Dinnegan was pleading not guilty to a public order charge and three charges of assault.

Mr Flynn said the accused was 20 years of age at the time of the incident which occurred during a soccer match between Mullingar Town and Horseleap.

Counsel said from reading the book of evidence and speaking to the accused it appeared the whole incident arose out of racist remarks made towards Mr Dinnegan and other players on his team by the Horseleap players.

Mr Flynn said that was also referenced in Mr Sweeney's statement of complaint to the gardai.

In what defence counsel described as a nasty incident in a match which went out of control, the referee sustained a broken jaw and a fractured eye socket.

A dozen or more people were involved and Dean Dinnegan held his hands up at an early stage and admitted assaulting Mr Sweeney.

Mr Flynn said a probation report would be of help in understanding the Traveller background of the accused and the motivation behind the incident.

He said €5,000 had been brought to court for the victim along with a letter of apology.

Shane Geraghty, BL, prosecuting, said Daniel Sweeney had been attempting to defuse the situation on the day and he certainly did not deserve a broken jaw and fractured eye socket.

Mr Geraghty noted the indication of not guilty pleas to the other offences by Dean Dinnegan and suggested that the prosecution travel with a trial for another party in the case, Sean Dinnegan, which is fixed for November.

Judge Fergus adjourned the matters relating to Dean Dinnegan to this Friday's sitting of the Circuit Court for mention.

Dean Dinnegan, Dalton Park, Mullingar, denies assaulting Jason Melia, Gavin Doorley and Andrew Kavanagh in Horseleap on November 11, 2018.

His father, Sean Dinnegan, 50, Dalton Park, Mullingar, is accused of assaulting Daniel Sweeney, Shauna Buckley, Andrew Kavanagh and a 12-year-old male at Horseleap on the same date.

He is further accused of producing an article during a dispute.

Both men are on bail.