PROMINENT Limerick solicitor John Devane has spoken of his relief after he was found not guilty of assaulting a colleague in a row over the “poaching of clients”.
John Devane, 50, who has offices at Quinlan Street had been accused of assaulting John Herbert outside Limerick courthouse on May 25, 2011.
It was alleged that he punched Mr Herbert twice in the groin area and that he tried to trip him.
Mr Herbert whose practice is located at Arthur’s Quay also claimed Mr Devane had verbally abused him during a row over the representation of a client.
In his evidence during the day-long hearing, he said he was approached by a client of Mr Devane’s who asked him to represent his son in court that day.
He insisted he had walked away to allow Mr Devane an opportunity to speak with his client who was standing outside the courthouse with his father.
He said as he left the area, he was followed by Mr Devane who was “spitting invective” and muttering personal and hurtful abuse at him.
Mr Herbert said Mr Devane then “stuck his head right into mine and he continued to abuse me and berate me generally”.
He said the first blow was extraordinarily sneaky and said it was a “short sharp movement”.
In his evidence, John Devane denied hitting Mr Herbert, who is a former heavyweight boxer.
He said the relationship between the men was strained and he said it was Mr Herbert who had assaulted him.
“He lunged forward, grabbed me by the throat and squeezed it,” he told the court.
“He is a big man, I am a small man, I am a sick man,” he said.
Dismissing the case, Judge Denis McLoughlin said there were a “number of inconsistences” in the prosecution case and that he did not believe the State had achieved the standard of proof required in criminal cases.
The judge also commented that he did not believe any of the parties had told lies during the case.
Speaking after the court hearing, Mr Devane said: “I didn’t assault anybody and my family have had to live through a living hell as a result of this”.
Mr Devane has also pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Herbert during a separate incident on June 9, 2011.
That case is due to be heard on Wednesday.