herald

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Barrister faces charges after scuffle with garda in courtroom rumpus

AGGRIEVED: Barrister Alan Toal is now seeking legal adviceORDER: Judge Murrough

Connellan stood firm Gardai intend to press assault charges against a well-known barrister after he was involved in a bizarre courtroom scuffle with a garda.

Barrister Alan Toal -- who represented slain gangland boss Eamon Dunne -- spent 15 minutes in a holding cell at Bray District Court after he ended up scuffling on the ground with a garda in front of shocked onlookers in the court room.

But in an exclusive interview with the Herald today, Mr Toal said he is taking legal advice after the incident which left him with scratches, marks and bruises.

He said he is now seeking legal advice "in all dimensions" about the incident.

Mr Toal said that if he was arrested in relation to the incident, he would subpoena Judge Connellan as a witness.

"He is as answerable to a subpoena as anybody else, and if he did not respond I could apply to secure his attendance," he said.

The incident unfolded shortly before midday yesterday during a family law sitting of the court when a client of Mr Toal arrived late for a court case.

Presiding Judge Murrough Connellan had ordered that no one else was to enter the courtroom as family law matters are held in private, with only people directly involved in the court case allowed in the court.

Mr Toal argued against the judge's order stating that his client and a solicitor involved in the case should be allowed in the courtroom. However Judge Connellan insisted no one else was to enter. Mr Toal continued to argue against the judge's order and refused to sit down when ordered to.

Judge Connellan then asked Mr Toal to leave the courtroom but the barrister refused and a garda approached the barrister on the orders of the judge.

A scuffle ensued and the two men fell on the ground, after which the garda was left with a torn shirt.







Detained

Garda reinforcements were called and Mr Toal was removed to a courtroom holding cell after Judge Connellan ordered his detention. Mr Toal was detained there for 15 minutes before being brought back before the judge, where he apologised to the garda whom he scuffled with but refused to apologise to the judge.

Today, the barrister explained that he was representing a family law case in front of Judge Murrough Connellan yesterday morning and the court had been cleared of everyone but those involved directly in another case.

"Three people arrived late and the judge ask that they not be allowed in, so I explained that one was my solicitor and one was my client," said Mr Toal. "When I refused to sit down he asked that I be taken from the court.

"One garda came to me and I said 'take your hands off me please I am entitled to advise the court' and then all the back-up came," Mr Toal added.

"I was dragged to the cells and locked up against my will," he added.

Mr Toal was later brought back before Judge Connellan.

"He said the resolution of the matter was up to me and I told him that what had happened was a disgrace, and then he replied 'you won't lecture me'."

"I refused to apologise and he told me I would have to withdraw from his court, which I said I would do happily," said Mr Toal, who is a former garda and has been a practising barrister for almost 20 years.

hnews@herald.ie

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