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Thursday 19 October 2017

Accountant's face was 'burst' in pitch assault

John Ryan, who was found guilty of assault causing harm on Conor Gaffney by a judge in Dublin District Court.
John Ryan, who was found guilty of assault causing harm on Conor Gaffney by a judge in Dublin District Court.

AN accountant kicked an ex-colleague "full force" in the face in a pitch assault during a football match between friends.

John Ryan (39) injured the other player, also an accountant, after the pair fought over a disputed tackle during the five-a-side game.

The victim, Conor Gaffney, told Dublin District Court his face was "burst open" after Ryan aimed a "running kick" at him during the scuffle.

Other players described the dispute as "handbags" before Ryan lost his temper and kicked his opponent, Mr Gaffney.

Ryan denied assaulting Mr Gaffney, saying he did not kick him deliberately and any contact that was made was in self defence as the victim punched him.

Judge Bryan Smyth refused to accept the kick was accidental. He found Ryan guilty of assault causing harm to Mr Gaffney and adjourned the case for a restorative justice programme report.

Ryan, of Penrose Street, Dublin 4 had pleaded not guilty to the offence, which happened at the ESB Sports Co, South Lotts Road, Ringsend on September 6, 2013.

The court heard he was a "professional man with an exemplary career". The friends, all accountants and actuaries, had been playing football together for 10 years.

Mr Gaffney said the accused tried to foul him three times, running full speed at him in a move that he believed could have broken his leg.

Punches

He grabbed Mr Ryan, who began throwing punches, which he returned. He got the accused in a headlock and swung him around but lost his footing and fell to the ground.

He believed the scuffle was over, but Ryan, who was still standing kicked him full force to the side of his face, near the temple.

"You wouldn't be able to kick a ball harder," he said of the blow.

"He lunged at me, he jumped on me and punched me right above my eye. My face burst open."

Other players intervened. He told the accused he was "some big hard man, kicking somebody when they are on the ground".

He said the accused then told him: "That was for the sixth of August," referring to the tackle Mr Gaffney had made on that date.

He received stitches to the wound above his eye, adding: "It was an extremely traumatic experience."

Cross-examined by Keith Spencer BL, for the defence, he accepted that he had approached the accused aggressively and that grabbing him amounted to assault.

Ryan told the court he was not aware of any problem with the tackle until he heard Mr Gaffney say: "You are a f***ing p***k, JR."

He alleged that the victim began throwing punches at him before grabbing him around the neck and hitting him in the back of the head.

They both fell to the ground, he claimed, and he "managed to drive two forcible blows" into Mr Gaffney's facial area.

He said he was "scrambling frenetically" to break free as he was afraid and believed he was "under attack".

They may have made contact with each other as they separated, he said.

"He got up and said that is it, you are f***ed now, JR, I am going to the guards," Ryan alleged.

Force

Mr Spencer argued there was justifiable use of force in the punches.

Judge Smith found that the kick delivered by Ryan was deliberate and disproportionate to what was going on.

Mr Spencer asked the judge not to convict the defendant.

"This man shouldn't be forced to pay for this for the rest of his life," he said.

The judge adjourned the case to a date in November to "allow things to settle down".

hnews@herald.ie

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