A Mountmellick man charged with assaulting a former Portlaoise garda had his case dismissed by Judge Catherine Staines at the district court last week.
John Horan, 22 Esker Gate, Mountmellick, pleaded not guilty to the charge of assault, at Hynds Square, Portlaoise, on November 10, 2012.
Judge Staines said if the matter were a civil case, she would have preferred the evidence of the injured party, Mr Tom Jones, a retired garda. However, as both parties claimed to have been assaulted by each other, and in the absence of independent witnesses and CCTV footage, the judge ruled that she would have to give Mr Horan the benefit of the doubt and dismiss the charge.
At a previous court sitting, former garda detective Jones gave evidence that he was followed by Mr Horan after leaving a pub at approximately 12.30am. He said that Mr Horan started shouting at him, suggesting that Mr Jones was about to drink and drive. Mr Jones also said that Mr Horan alleged that Mr Jones had tried to “set him up”, for which Mr Horan was looking revenge.
Mr Jones said that Mr Horan pushed him and punched him on the left ear with a clenched fist. Mr Jones also said that Mr Horan attempted to wrestle him to the ground.
Last week, Mr Horan took the witness box to testify. He claimed that Mr Jones had in assaulted him on the night, after Mr Horan advised Mr Jones not to drink and drive.
“He turned round and assaulted me, he started hitting me in the ribs and kicked me on the legs, I’m no good at fighting,” said Mr Horan.
Questioned by solicitor, Mr Philip Meagher, Mr Horan denied that he had assaulted Mr Jones.
“I lived with a garda for nine years and I know not to touch them,” said Mr Horan.
During cross-examination by Inspector Aidan Farrelly, Mr Horan said he’d had four or five drinks on the night, which had left him “tipsy”.
In relation to the allegation made that Mr Horan had previously been “set up” by Mr Jones, Mr Horan said he had made a serious complaint against Mr Jones and a PSV Inspector ten years ago, which had involved the hiring of a private investigator.
“This instigated you into your whole encounter with Mr Jones,” suggested Inspector Farrelly.
Mr Horan denied this, and repeated that he had not assaulted Mr Jones.
“I never touched him,” said Mr Horan.
In summation, Mr Meagher said there was a complete conflict of evidence in the case, and there was no CCTV that could be of assistance. He said it would be unsafe to convict his client as there was a doubt.
Judge Staines noted that Mr Jones had given clear evidence of the assault on him, but both parties were claiming to have been assaulted by the other.
In the absence of independent witnesses and CCTV, the judge dismissed the charge.