Hendrick 'dragged me from taxi before attack', trial is told
A Dublin man has said he was left with multiple jaw fractures following an attack by a group of men minutes after international footballer Jeff Hendrick dragged him from a taxi stopped at traffic lights.
Mr Hendrick (25), originally from Kilmore Drive, Artane, Dublin, but now living in the UK, pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to committing violent disorder at Harcourt Street, Dublin, on October 12, 2013.
Co-accused Jonathan Doran (26), of Kilmore Close, Artane, also pleaded not guilty to violent disorder. Mr Doran, who works as a barber in Ratoath, Co Meath, also denied a charge of assault causing harm to Darren McDermott at the junction of Montague Street and Harcourt Street on the same date.
Mr McDermott said he had been in Krystle nightclub in the city earlier that night, where he had bumped into two men he knew who were in the company of Mr Hendrick.
He said he initially mixed well with the group, but at some point the footballer's demeanour changed.
"To this day I don't know why his attitude changed," said Mr McDermott, before he told the jury that eventually Mr Hendrick became so aggressive that bouncers intervened and escorted him off the premises.
Mr McDermott remained in the nightclub for about 10 minutes before leaving with his friend. He could see Mr Hendrick waiting outside.
"Straight away he tried to get back at me," said Mr McDermott.
He told the jury he found it very intimidating and tried to get back into the nightclub, but the bouncers did not want any more hassle and pointed him in the direction of a nearby taxi rank.
Mr McDermott got into the front passenger seat of a waiting taxi, which headed towards St Stephen's Green before it came to a stop at a set of traffic lights.
He told the jury that Mr Hendrick appeared at his window and the rest of the car was surrounded by a group of his friends.
"They were banging on the bonnet and window. They wanted me to get out. Mr Hendrick was telling me to get out and was saying he would kill me," said Mr McDermott.
"I offered the driver €50 or €100 to drive on but he said he didn't want any hassle and he unlocked the door."
He told the jury that, at this point, Mr Hendrick opened the car door and pulled him from the taxi.
"I tried to calm him down. I thought it was getting a little more serious. I was afraid I was going to get a bit of hiding," said Mr McDermott, before adding he then decided to run.
"I was afraid for my safety...afraid I was going to be assaulted or even worse. I sprinted off. I remember hitting the ground and people on top of me laying into me."
He told Diarmuid Collins, prosecuting, that he couldn't see who was chasing after him and he didn't know how he ended up on the ground.
He described kicks to his head, face, chest and back.
"I was curled in a ball trying to protect my head as much as possible. It was just smack after smack... digs," said Mr McDermott.
He told the jury that he then heard some girls' voices screaming to get off him and the assault came to an end.
"If they hadn't arrived, God knows what condition I would have been in," he said.
"My jaw was wobbly, some of my front teeth were smashed and my bottom teeth were loose. I never once hit any of them."
He called his friend and gardai arrived a short time later, before he got a taxi to Beaumont Hospital near his family home.
Mr McDermott said he had three fractures to his jaw, four of his teeth were smashed and others were loose.
He was told he had to have emergency surgery and a transfer was arranged to St James's Hospital. He said he had made contact with his wife, who took him to St James's Hospital after dropping their children to his mother's home.
He got plates inserted into his jaw and spent a couple of days in hospital. He had to drink through a straw for a couple of weeks and is still getting medical attention.
Earlier, Mr Collins advised the jury that Mr Hendrick may be known to them as a professional footballer, "who has represented his country with distinction".
He said the jurors had taken an oath to give a true verdict without prejudice and, whether they thought the accused was a talented footballer or they had no interest in football at all, they should not allow this to influence their decision.
The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan