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Sunday 28 May 2017

Former boxer avoids jail for road rage assault on bus driver

Anthony Fitzgerald
Anthony Fitzgerald

A former professional boxer who was at the Regency Hotel when gangster David Byrne was shot dead has avoided jail despite attacking a bus driver.

Anthony Fitzgerald (32), a close pal of gangland murder victims Gareth and Gary Hutch, had previously pleaded guilty to assault causing harm. He received a suspended sentence.

In the aftermath of the Reg- ency bloodbath on February 5 last year, Fitzgerald, who has no involvement in organised crime, fled from the hotel with family members.

The boxer, who is understood to be a cousin of Gary Hutch, broke the bus driver's nose during a road rage incident.

Fitzgerald, of Gloucester Place, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Toufik Slali on North Circular Road on November 18, 2014.

The victim was driving to a school when a Mini pulled out in front of him without signalling, Gda Robert Tomkin told the court. The bus driver had to brake hard and he beeped his horn.

Fitzgerald jumped out from the driver's side of the car and started shouting that his children were in the car. When the driver did not respond, Fitzgerald got on the bus.

"You f**king foreigner, talk to me when I speak to you," he told Mr Slali.

The victim said Fitzgerald head-butted him on the nose and he fell back into a seat. Fitzgerald then punched him.

Damage

Paul Comiskey O'Keeffe, defending, said this was an incident of road rage in which Fitzgerald had a "hyper-sensitive reaction".

He said his client denied head-butting or punching him and said he struck the victim with an open hand.

Judge Melanie Greally said that because of his boxing background the use of his palm to strike a blow had a different degree of force. She said the damage caused by the blow spoke for itself.

She said Fitzgerald had made extremely abusive and racist remarks before assaulting the victim.

Judge Greally suspended a prison sentence of three years on condition he keep the peace.

She noted he had not offended since the attack and now volunteered as a boxing coach at his childhood club.

Gda Tomkin said Fitzgerald has 31 previous convictions including assault, criminal damage and two firearms and offensive weapons offences. He has 23 road traffic offence convictions and was disqualified from driving for 10 years.

The victim experienced ongoing dizziness, blurred vision and headaches after the attack. A fracture of his nasal bone was fixed in surgery.

Mr O'Keeffe said Fitzgerald previously represented his country in international boxing.

He said his client had brought €4,000 to court as a token of remorse. He said the raising of this was a considerable hardship as his client was on Jobseeker's Allowance and his family was of limited means.

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