herald

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Pay €6k or risk jail over assault, judge warns GAA player

Ashling Thompson
Ashling Thompson

Three-time All-Ireland winning camogie player Ashling Thompson - who pleaded guilty to assaulting two women in a nightclub - has been warned she will face jail if she does not pay €6,000 to cover charitable donations and the expenses of the victims.

Thompson (29), of Shinanagh, Newtownshandrum, Charleville, Co Cork, pleaded guilty earlier this year to assaulting Jennifer Coakley at Secret Garden in Rearden's, Washington Street, Cork city, on February 25, 2018.

Last week, she entered a plea of guilty to a charge of assaulting a second woman, Aoife O'Flaherty, on the same night in the club.

Intoxicated

Cork District Court heard that the two assaults happened within 90 minutes of each other.

Eddie Burke, Thompson's solicitor, said his client was "intoxicated" on the night of the assaults and alcohol clearly did not suit her.

Judge Con O'Leary heard the Cork camogie player had lost all but one of her sponsorship contracts. She had been living in rental accommodation in Cork city but is now residing with her parents in Charleville.

Mr Burke said his client enjoyed a good career. However, she may now only be remembered for this incident and she regrets her actions.

The second assault would not have happened if Thompson was asked to leave the nightclub after the first incident, he said.

Mr Burke said his client understands drink is not for her and has curtailed her social life accordingly. She is studying online and her family is financially supporting her.

Judge O'Leary was told neither Ms O'Flaherty or Ms Coakley had sought significant medical attention.

Ms O'Flaherty told gardai she suffered pain in her neck after Thompson pinched her in the back of the head.

Ordering Ms Thompson to pay €2,500 to charities Edel House and €1,000 to Cuan Lee, as well as €2,000 to Ms Coakley and €500 to Ms O'Flaherty, the judge said he could not understand the media fascination and large turnout for the case.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Burke said his client was keen to put the matter behind her and to get on with her life.

Ms Thompson has until September 30 to pay the €6,000. She has avoided a criminal conviction.

Judge O'Leary said that if the money is paid, the case will disappear: "No convictions. It disappears into a fog.

"There is no Probation Act. No strike out."

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