A STONEMASON who assaulted the son of a well-known publican will have to carry out community service to avoid going to prison.
During a contested hearing at Kilmallock District Court, Michael Keane, aged 29, of Ballinvana, Kilmallock denied assaulting Richard O’Meara during an incident at Derry’s Bar, Main Street Bruff on November 16, 2013.
In his evidence, Mr O’Meara, whose father, Derry, is the licensee, said he was playing darts with a friend at around 9pm when he heard an argument developing him between a number of customers.
“It was over a pint or something like that,” he said, adding that when the row escalated he intervened and “got between them”.
Mr O’Meara said while he is the bar manager he was not working on the night of the incident.
When he observed Mr Keane raising a glass in a “threatening manner” he intervened and asked him to put the glass down.
It was at this point, he said, the defendant struck him in the chin with his other hand. “I fell down, I was pretty disorientated and concussed,” said Mr O’Meara, who later accepted that he did not seek medical attention and had no proof that he was concussed.
Judge Marian O’Leary was told Mr O’Meara sustained a broken tooth and a bruised jaw as a result of being struck.
Being cross-examined by solicitor Brendan Gill, representing Mr Keane, the witness agreed he had not identified himself as the bar manager to his client.
When asked why there was no CCTV footage of the incident from any of the 16 cameras in the pub, Mr O’Meara said the system was not working on the night and that he no any explanation as to why.
He denied suggestions he had threatened to “f***” Mr Keane “out the door” or that he had kicked him in the middle of the street after he had been ejected from the pub.
“I wasn’t in any condition to kick anyone,” he said.
In his evidence, Mike Enright said he had had been drinking in the pub on the night and that when he returned from the smoking area his can of cider was gone.
He said he had a few words with another customer – who he did not know – and that he then “just saw Richie [Richard O’Meara] going down like a flash”.
He told Inspector Ronan McDonagh he didn’t see any blows being struck and that things “fizzled out quickly” once Mr Keane was removed from the premises.
Another customer, Kevin O’Callaghan, said while he was playing darts the defendant, who he said was “in good spirits”, was hitting the bar with his hand.
He said when Richard O’Meara intervened in the argument he “just buckled down onto his hunkers”.
Mr O’Callaghan said while he did not see a punch being thrown by the defendant, he saw a “movement of his right hand”.
Derry O’Meara told the court that when the defendant arrived in the pub with a friend they “already had drink taken” but that Gearoid McCarthy, who was working behind the bar on the night, said he knew them and vouched for them.
He later became aware of a dispute between a number of customers and that Mr Keane “just left fly with his fists” knocking his son to the ground.
Mr O’Meara described how he then placed Mr Keane in a headlock and brought him out of the premises.
He said following a minor scuffle outside the defendant took off his shirt and ran back towards the pub but was blocked by a customer who “put up his knee”.
When asked by Mr Gill about the lack of CCTV footage, Mr O’Meara said the system was actually working on the night and that it was only the monitor that was broken.
He agreed that had the CCTV footage of the incident been downloaded, “it would have been helpful”.
When asked, Mr O’Meara said he didn’t see his son kick the defendant after he had been brought outside.
In his evidence, Mr Keane said he had been out to watch the Ireland versus Australia rugby match earlier in the evening and that he had around five pints in another pub in the village before moving to Derry’s Bar, where he had “two or three” more pints.
He said while he and his nephew were arguing with Mike Enright, who is known as “Mickser” another man approached him from the right and threatened to put him through the door.
“He made a go for me and I threw my hand out and connected with his chin,” he said, claiming that he was punched and kicked in the stomach by customers as he was being ejected by Derry O’Meara.
He said Richard O’Meara kicked later him on the side of the shoulder in the middle of the street.
“I regret the incident, it has been a year of a nightmare,” he said adding that while he made a formal complaint to gardai [that he was kicked], he was told he didn’t have a case.
Despite submissions from Mr Gill questioning the credibility of several prosecution witnesses, Judge O’Leary convicted Mr Keane saying the State had proven its case “based on the facts”.
Mr Gill said his client, who has 11 previous convictions, has a “chequered enough past” but is not of a violent disposition.
He said he has “an excellent work history” and he informed the court that separate civil proceedings have been initiated.
After being informed the defendant is willing to carry out community service, Judge O’Leary said she is considering a penalty of 60 hours in lieu of a month’s imprisonment.
The case was adjourned to July 24 for a community service report.