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Saturday 18 November 2017

Victim statement of woman punched by ex ruled to be prejudicial

Emma Murphy arriving at court to read a victim impact statement after Francis Usanga was found guilty of assaulting her
Emma Murphy arriving at court to read a victim impact statement after Francis Usanga was found guilty of assaulting her
Francis Usanga

A TV fitness expert who punched the mother of his children in the face has objected to her victim impact statement, which his lawyer described as "outlandish" and "untrue".

Francis Usanga (31) was in court for sentencing for the assault on his ex-partner, model Emma Murphy, when his solicitor raised objections to the statement she handed in.

Judge Bryan Smyth agreed to adjourn the case for two weeks after the defence argued the document, which was not read out to the court, was "prejudicial" to Usanga.

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 on July 3, 2015.

Irrelevant

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

The case was due to be finalised at Dublin District Court yesterday, but defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe said he had seen Ms Murphy's victim impact statement and did not think the judge should read it.

He said its contents were "absolutely irrelevant" and indicated matters that were "utterly prejudicial and untrue".

Judge Smyth looked at the statement and said it seemed to refer to other issues.

"What the court is concerned with is what is before the court and nothing else," the judge said.

"The victim impact statement can't be used to bring in other matters."

A State solicitor accepted Ms Murphy "may have strayed slightly" in her statement.

Mr Hanahoe said that although the judge had not read the statement thoroughly, it had been read sufficiently to be prejudicial.

Judge Smyth said he was not accepting the written statement.

He told Mr Hanahoe he had "hardly read any of it" and said he was not happy with it but was going to disregard it.

The State solicitor said Ms Murphy could give oral evidence instead.

Mr Hanahoe said he wanted to consider his position. It was a matter of whether the court had been prejudiced by the statement and if it could proceed, he said.

There were matters in the statement that could alter the court's view of the nature of the case, he added.

Judge Smyth said a victim impact statement was "not carte blanche".

Usanga did not address the 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".

Ms Murphy asked Usanga if she could use his phone and, after a conversation, she told him "you cheated on me again" and threw it in his direction, she said.

"He punched me in the face," she told the court, saying his fist hit her left eye.

The 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.

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