Clubber left with eye injury after nightclub attack by rugby star
A YOUNG rugby player pinned another student to the ground, causing a laceration over his eye during a drink-fuelled night out in Dublin, a court heard.
Eoghan McKeever (20), who once played under-18s rugby for Ireland, assaulted and injured the victim outside a nightclub where they had both been drinking.
The man was taken to hospital for stitches to the wound after the incident.
Dublin District Court heard McKeever was "devastated" by what happened, had since dropped out of college, stopped playing rugby and got a job as a hotel bellboy.
Judge Michael Walsh told him to pay €2,000 compensation but deferred a final decision on the case after McKeever asked to be left without a criminal record.
The accused, with an address at Bracken Bush Road, Killiney, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to the man at Harcourt Street on April 3, 2014.
The charge is under Section 3 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.
Sergeant Zita Woods told the court gardai were called to the club at 4.30am and saw the victim with blood coming from his left eye.
He pointed out the accused, who was still at the scene.
The man alleged that the accused had taken him to the ground and punched him. He was then brought by ambulance to St James's Hospital.
Both the accused and the victim had drink taken on the night, Sgt Woods said.
CCTV footage was viewed and it showed McKeever pinning the victim to the ground, but no punches were seen.
The court heard there was a jagged laceration above the victim's eyebrow which had required stitches, but he had since made a full recovery.
The gardai could not "ascertain what it was over" but there was "a lot of drink on both sides", Sgt Woods added.
McKeever had no previous convictions of any kind, had never been in trouble before and had been "absolutely co-operative" with the garda investigation, his solicitor Emer O'Sullivan said.
The defendant and the victim had both been out at a student races night in Leopardstown earlier, she explained.
"There was a question of whether my client was pushed first," Ms O'Sullivan said.
The accused "essentially fell over", she said. It was a case where he could have contested the charge, however, he was pleading guilty.
The court heard the injured party had "no hard feelings".
McKeever had a very promising career ahead of him but the case had a "devastating" effect on him.
He had played Under-18s rugby for Ireland.
"He dropped out of college and has stopped all that now," Ms O'Sullivan said.
McKeever was now working as a bellboy in a hotel, which was "quite a drop from his previous lifestyle", Ms O'Sullivan added.
Judge Walsh said the defendant had been contrite and the case had "taken its toll on him".
He told the defendant to pay €2,000 compensation and initially said he was going to fine the accused, which would mean a conviction.
Ms O'Sullivan asked the judge to consider leaving McKeever without a criminal conviction, saying he had played rugby at the highest level and hoped to return to that.
Judge Walsh adjourned the case for three weeks and said he would "think about it".