A BOUNCER in a Portlaoise night club has been found not guilty of assaulting a 15-year-old boy, leaving the youth with an injury to his groin which required surgery to drain a bisected testicle.
The jury in the recent Circuit Court trial were shown CCTV footage of the injured party kicking and punching the outside of Egan’s Niteclub on the town’s Main Street, in the early hours of St Stephen’s Day, 2010. The court heard that the youth, who was 15 at the time, had drank seven cans that day, before he went to two pubs where he drank a further two to three pints in each.
“I was drinking anything at all,” he told the court.
After leaving the pub the boy sneaked into the night club by climbing over the rear wall and jumping down into the smoking section. After having another drink or two, the youth became involved in a fight which he described as “pushing”, before he was expelled from the premises. Once outside, the youth “got thick” and started shouting at the door staff.
“I kept getting thicker and thicker,” he said.
The youth alleged that a door man, Robert Ryan, of Knock, Roscrea, Tipperary, opened the door of Egans and kicked him in the groin. The youth then started kicking the doors of the building for about two to three minutes, before Mr Ryan allegedly opened the door again and kicked the youth in the groin a second time.
The court heard that when the gardaí arrived, it took four officers with the assistance of two door men to put handcuffs on the youth and restrain him. Garda Sharon Murray said that she initially thought the youth was resisting arrest, but then he complained of pain in his groin and had to be assisted walking into the garda station. At the station, he curled up in a ball on the ground and Garda Murray said he sounded like he was crying. Midoc was called, but once it transpired that the doctor would not arrive at the station for an hour, the youth was released into the care of his own cousin and advised to go to hospital.
The court heard that the youth suffered a bisected testicle and required surgery under general anaesthetic.
Mr Ryan denied the charge of assault causing harm. 39-year-old Ryan told the court that he runs a security company and regularly works with night clubs and the GAA. In 2010 he was an employee of Egan’s, with responsibility for the premises and the safety of customers. On the night of December 26 into the early hours of December 27, while he was working the door of Egan’s, Mr Ryan said he was aware of the 15-year-old shouting and screaming outside and repeatedly kicking the doors.
“He was hellbent on getting back inside,” said Mr Ryan. “I knew he was a danger.”
Mr Ryan explained that as he was letting two people out of the premises, the youth and “a couple of other lads” tried to get in.
“I was letting two people out and I was under threat at this stage,” Mr Ryan said. “It sometimes happens if you’re outnumbered and it’s a busy night, you can’t restrain them so you have to just keep them out. I put out my foot to block him, my right hand was on the door and my left hand was covering my face and we’re taught to use the leg to keep people away.”
Mr Ryan said he used the base of his foot to push the youth away and then he closed the door.
“I only raised my foot once,” he said.
State prosecutor, Mr Desmond Dockery asked Mr Ryan if he was unable to restrain someone, was the next best thing to try to disable them “with a kick that bends them over, unable to breath?”
Mr Ryan replied it was not. Mr Dockery replayed the CCTV footage to the defendant, claiming that the video showed the youth bending over due to a kick. Mr Ryan disagreed and said the video showed the youth leaning forward and shouting abuse.
“It’s a lunge forward, a quick dart to put you on edge,” said Mr Ryan.
Mr Dockery maintained the video showed the first kick being administered and the youth reacting with “an instinctual move.” At that point in the case, Judge Anthony Hunt interjected and said he could not see what Mr Dockery was referring to.
“Maybe it’s there, but I can’t see it,” said the judge. After watching the next sequence of CCTV footage, which showed the youth continuing to kick the doors of the building, Judge Hunt remarked: “Well, whatever happened the first time had very little effect.”
The footage then showed the youth apparently bending over again near to the open door of the building. Mr Dockery claimed this showed the second kick being administered, but Mr Ryan disagreed. Mr Dockery asked Mr Ryan why he had not followed the standard procedure of having another bouncer intervene to talk to the youth in an effort to calm him down.
“He wasn’t a person who was easy to talk to,” replied Mr Ryan.
Judge Hunt again intervened during the cross-examination of the defendant, asking Mr Dockery: “Are you seriously suggesting he was amenable to some sensible comments?”
Mr Dockery said he had no more questions for Mr Ryan.
Defence, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick said her client had made a professional and correct assessment of the threat presented by the youth. She told the jury that Mr Ryan had blocked the youth’s attempt to interfere with the patrons of the night club as they were leaving and he had reacted with reasonable force.
“I am far too old to be clubbing, but my nieces and nephews go and I want them to be safe: I want someone like Robert Ryan on the door,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.
It took the jury less than 45 minutes to return a verdict of not guilty against Mr Ryan.