Farmer beaten over phantom love affair
ASSAULT: Victim 'flattened' in pub gets €43k award
A FARMER attacked by a local man in the false belief that he was having an affair with his wife has been awarded €43,120 in High Court damages.
Brendan Rooney (52), Moneygold, Grange, sued Michael Feeney, Brookfield, Cliffoney, Sligo, over the unprovoked assault that left the sheep farmer with a broken jaw, bruising to his face, rib injuries and post-traumatic stress.
Mr Feeney did not defend the action and a jury of six men and six women were told by Mr Justice Eamonn deValera their only task was to assess damages for his injuries.
Following an hour and 20 minutes of deliberation, the jury assessed total damages €43,120 including €25,000 in compensatory and €12,500 in exemplary damages.
The court heard Feeney pleaded guilty to the assault in Sligo District Court in July 2009 and after he paid €2,500 in compensation, he was dealt with under the Probation Act. Feeney's lawyer claimed at that hearing the assault happened in a moment of madness, Damien Keaney , for Mr Rooney, told the court yesterday.
Mr Rooney, a father-of-three sons, told the court he knew Mr Feeney and his wife socially and used to drink with them in the local pub.
On the morning of May 4, 2008, Mr Rooney was working in a shed beside his home when Feeney, accompanied by his son walked in. He had drink taken.
He accused Mr Rooney of having an affair with his wife and then poked him in the shoulder with an umbrella. He told Mr Rooney to "watch your back".
Mr Rooney did not say anything because he did not know what to say and had no idea where he got the idea that he was having an affair with his wife.
There was absolutely no truth in it, said Mr Rooney who fought back tears a number of times as he gave evidence.
Asked by his counsel if there was any time before this when things went sour between them, Mr Rooney replied "not at all".
He did not report the incident to the gardai because he was embarrassed and did not want his neighbours to find out.
Around three months later, on August 30, Mr Rooney was drinking in his local, Harrisons. Mr Feeney and his wife were also there are the other end of the pub. Without warning, and as Mr Rooney was turning to speak to some other people playing cards, Feeney walked over and "flattened" him.
He was taken to Sligo Hospital by a garda but he discharged himself because the next day he was due to go on a week's holiday to Spain for his 25th wedding anniversary.
That was a mistake, he said, because apart from his other injuries, his jaw was broken and he was unable to eat.
When he returned from holiday, he had to have surgery for his jaw under general anaesthetic and to this day he still had pain in his face.
He had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He met Mr Feeney on a road after the District Court case and Mr Feeney spat at him.
Mr Rooney's wife Carmel said he used to go out regularly social dancing but it was very hard to get him to go out anywhere now.