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Prison officer acquitted of 'keys assault'

A PRISON officer has been acquitted of assaulting a prisoner with a bunch of keys in the holding cells of the Criminal Courts of Justice two years ago.

Thomas Hogg (49) from Clondalkin had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Bernard Cawley (46) causing him harm on April 20, 2012 at the holding cells in the Courts of Criminal Justice.

Mr Hogg told gardai during a voluntary interview that he was acting in self defence. The jury deliberated for two hours before reaching their verdict on the second day of the trial.


Judge Patrick M cCartan thanked the jury of eight men and four women for their service. During his charge to the jury, Judge McCartan said that the prosecution case is that Mr Hogg intentionally assaulted Mr Cawley with a set of keys. He told them that if they thought it reasonably possible that the keys were involved by accident, then Mr Hogg is not guilty.

During the trial, Mr Cawley said he had been taken to the cells in the basement of the building while awaiting transfer to Mountjoy Prison after receiving a four-month prison sentence for burglary.

He said he had pressed the buzzer and knocked on the door a few times before an officer came to the hatch and he asked for a cigarette.

He said he was told to "f**k off" before he added that he was starting to get agitated and he banged on the door again.

He said the next officer who came to the hatch was Mr Hogg.

"Somebody started calling me names; a knacker, a jockey and saying 'you get nothing'. I started crying and my nerves were worse because I hadn't got a smoke," Mr Cawley said.

He said they went away so he knocked again and, at one point, was told he would get nothing before his cell door was slammed shut. He kicked the door in anger in response.

He said the door opened and Mr Hogg "came at me". He said he put his hands up and the accused was swinging keys at him.

"I got a belt to the top of my head and face. I keeled over. I remember waking up with handcuffs on me," Mr Cawley told the jury.

Prison Officer Ross Murphy identified the keys which were an exhibit in the trial. He stood in the box and lifted them above his head to demonstrate what he witnessed Mr Hogg do.

Mr Murphy said that he had been responsible for the landing Mr Cawley was on earlier that evening and the man had been placed in a separate cell because he was a convicted sex offender.

Later in the evening, he said, he was with Mr Hogg when he recalled him going to Mr Cawley's cell and swinging open the door in an aggressive manner.

He said Mr Cawley lunged at Mr Hogg, who pushed him back in self-defence.

Mr Murphy said he turned to ensure the cell door was not going to spring shut and when he turned back he saw Mr Hogg bring a set of keys into the air before bringing them down on Mr Cawley's head.