herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Fitness expert escapes jail term for punching mother of his children

Francis Usanga
Francis Usanga

A TV fitness expert has been spared jail for punching the mother of his children in the face after she accused him of cheating on her.

Francis Usanga (31) must carry out 100 hours of community service to avoid a five-month prison sentence.

Judge Bryan Smyth made the order after reading a victim impact statement written by Usanga's ex-partner, model Emma Murphy.

Last month, the former RTE Today Show fitness guru was found guilty of assault causing harm to Ms Murphy outside his gym, FX Fitness, in Santry, Dublin, on July 3, 2015.

Viral

Usanga, of Lanesboro, Finglas, had pleaded not guilty, claiming he only pushed the mother-of-two with an open hand "in self-defence".

Dublin District Court heard a Facebook video Ms Murphy shared after the assault went viral and Usanga claimed this was done in an attempt to "destroy" him.

Sentencing had been adjourned previously when Usanga objected to an earlier victim impact statement, the contents of which his lawyer had described as "outlandish" and "untrue".

Yesterday, a new victim impact statement was handed to the judge, who did not disclose its contents to the court.

Defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe questioned whether Judge Smyth could continue to deal with the case because he had read some of the previous victim impact statement.

Mr Hanahoe argued that the first statement was prejudicial to his client.

Emma Murphy leaving court
Emma Murphy leaving court

A State solicitor asked Judge Smyth to proceed to sentencing and disregard the previous statement.

Judge Smyth referred to case law from the Court of Criminal Appeal which stated that a victim impact statement should be submitted to a judge and defence lawyer before being read out.

This was so both a judge and legal representatives can make sure it contains "nothing untoward". The person making the statement could be found in contempt of court if they strayed from the conditions. If it did contain scurrilous allegations, this could be taken into account in mitigation, Judge Smyth said.

He said he had only read the first line of the earlier victim impact statement.

Mr Hanahoe said the case was "different from the normal type" of domestic assault.

He said Usanga had "made attempts to get away" from a confrontation.

The victim threw a phone and he struck a blow, Mr Hanahoe said.

Usanga had made a good life for himself, had been a participant in an RTE programme and had owned a leasehold on a gym. He was "quite successful", he added.

But he "lost that", Mr Hanahoe said.

The leasehold had to be sold once Ms Murphy's video "went viral".

From being in a "very good financial position" before the assault, Usanga was now on €193 per week working on an enterprise scheme.

He was out of his family home, away from his children and was living with his mother.

Suffered

The victim had made a TV programme, with the accused as its subject, Mr Hanahoe said.

She initially "bypassed the whole system" and put out a version of events and Usanga had "suffered greatly from that".

He said Ms Murphy had appeared on English television and had travelled to other countries and addressed conferences, becoming a cause celebre.

She was entitled to do this but it had an effect on Usanga, Mr Hanahoe said.

Neither Usanga nor Ms Murphy would comment outside court. During last month's hearing, Ms Murphy said she went to Usanga's gym, with her two young children in the car, to talk to him about him "cheating on me again".

He punched her in the face after she threw a phone.

Usanga had no previous convictions.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News