A GALBALLY man received 27 stitches after what a solicitor described as “a free-for-all” involving up to 15 individuals broke out on the main street in Ballylanders in the early hours of St Patrick’s Day last year.
CCTV footage shown at Kilmallock Court this Tuesday showed two groups of people engaging in “a melee” outside a well-known nightclub in the village.
Jason Creamer, 22, of Boskill, Caherconlish was before Kilmallock Court charged with assault causing harm on Main Street, Ballylanders on March 17, 2014.
Outlining the CCTV footage as it was viewed in court, Garda Jeremiah O’Connor of Bruff garda station told the court of how Conor Henebry of Galbally - who now lives in Cork – was seen sitting on a windowsill talking to a friend before he eventually walked up the street.
The court heard that when he approached a group who were near the entrance to the nightclub “slaps were thrown” and Mr Henebry ended up on the ground.
The court heard how the confrontation continued out into the middle of the road.
CCTV footage later showed Mr Henebry being knocked to the ground again and being struck while on the ground. Garda O’Connor identified Mr Henebry to Judge Marian O’Leary on the CCTV footage as the man “with blood pouring down his face”.
Garda O’Connor said they were able to identify Jason Creamer “but it wasn’t possible to identify any other persons involved in the incident”.
In his evidence, Mr Henebry said he had left the nightclub and was sitting on a windowsill when he saw an incident involving his friend and “I went down to see what went on”.
He said after the assault he remembered getting up and there was “blood everywhere”.
“Everyone was panicking about the open wounds in my head. I was in hospital for three days,” said Mr Henebry who told the court that he was two weeks out of work due to his injuries.
“I had serious dental issues. I had to get 15 stitches on my eye, four on the back of my head and eight on my temple.”
Under cross-examination from defence solicitor, Brandan Gill, Mr Henebry denied that after he approached Mr Creamer and the group he was with, that he punched a 16-year-old who was in their company.
Giving evidence, the 16-year-old youth said a friend of Mr Henebry had followed him around the nightclub, prior to the altercation outside.
Mr Henebry’s friend denied that he was in Sharkeys nightclub and said he was only in Gallahue’s Bar which is adjacent to the nightclub.
The 16-year-old told the court that outside Mr Henebry hit him. “He asked me to fight him – no word of a lie”.
“He struck me and then Creamer struck him,” said the 16-year-old who added that he left at that point.
A female witness told the court that there were both male and females involved in the assaults on the night in question – up to 15 in total. The court heard that alcohol was consumed by all parties.
Solicitor Brendan Gill put it to the female that it was “a melee, a free-for-all, with punches being thrown all round”.
It was the defence’s case that Mr Creamer was acting in self-defence and defending his 16-year-old friend.
In his evidence, Mr Creamer said that he had seen his 16-year-old friend in an altercation with Mr Henebry’s friend in the nightclub.
He said that later outside, Conor Henebry approached and punched the 16-year-old.
“I punched Conor once at that stage,” said Mr Creamer pointing out that he was defending his 16-year-old friend.
“He got back up and I said ‘Leave it go – he’s only 16 – he’s only a child’. He was roaring and shouting, saying ‘fight me’,” Mr Creamer said.
Mr Creamer said he punched Mr Henebry again and that he fell down before getting back up and he “kept coming and coming”.
“I punched him on the ground. I know it’s wrong to punch someone on the ground,” said Mr Creamer adding of the incident “I wish it never happened.”
Judge Marian O’Leary said that Mr Creamer used more force than what was necessary. She said that when Mr Creamer struck the injured party on the ground, he was not acting in self-defence at that stage as he was not under attack. She noted that he was not protecting the 16-year-old at that point as in his evidence he said he had left at an earlier point.
“He had the opportunity to retreat,” she said of Mr Creamer before finding him guilty.
The court heard that Mr Creamer, who will soon quality as an electrician, had no previous convictions.
“He greatly values his good name and good record,” said Mr Gill.
Judge O’Leary applied the Probation Act.