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Driver is cleared of punching his workmate in row

A WORKMAN accused of repeatedly punching a colleague in the head in a dispute over their duties has been cleared of assault.

Michael Forde (49) had allegedly struck his workmate in the forehead after the other man asked for help as he cleared a gully on a south Dublin street.

The attack was alleged to have happened when the colleague, Alan Ward, made Mr Forde "furious" by phoning their supervisor.

Mr Forde denied an assault charge, saying Mr Ward had made up the allegation because of an unknown "grievance".

Judge Patrick Clyne dismissed the charge as there was no corroboration to the claim and the only other worker at the scene had seen nothing.

Mr Forde, of St Ronan's Green, Clondalkin, had pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Ward at Milltown, Newcastle on April 30 2009. Both men were working for waste company Oxigen.



Gesture

Mr Ward told the court he was clearing out gullies with a suction pipe while the accused was driving their truck.

He asked Mr Forde for help and the accused was angry, telling him that was not his job. Mr Ward then told him that he would phone their supervisor.

Mr Ward claimed the accused made a gesture that he was holding a noose over his head and said: "You are a hangman, you are a hangman, you are a f***ing c***."

Mr Ward stuck his fingers up at the accused, who, he alleged, jumped out of the truck and put his head up against Mr Ward's head.

He claimed Mr Forde struck him twice on the forehead with his fists and once on top of his head when he lowered it.

He said the defendant then climbed back into the truck and drove away.

"I couldn't believe he had hit me," Mr Ward said.

Defence solicitor Declan Fahy put it to Mr Ward that Mr Forde had told him he would help him but that his job was to drive and he would bring the request to his supervisor's attention.

"He didn't get out with flowers and roses in his hands, he got out like a lunatic," Mr Ward alleged.

Mr Forde alleged in evidence that Mr Ward had knocked on the truck door and said, "Here you, out now, do this."

He said he would do it, but that he would report it to their supervisor and Mr Ward replied: "We will f***ing see about that", phoning the man himself.

He admitted calling Mr Ward a "f***ing c***", but denied that there was any physical violence.

Mr Forde said the only grievance he could think of was over an incident in which Mr Ward had appeared unwell at work and the accused reported this to their supervisor because he was "concerned for his health".

Garda Padraic O'Malley told the court he believed it was "far fetched" that Mr Ward would make the story up, with "no real benefit" to himself.

Judge Clyne said it was clear to him that there was a "bit of history" between the two men. He dismissed the charge.

aphelan@herald.ie