No Booker prize for Limerick student in Facebook rant

Judge Mary Larkin imposed a suspended sentence

Judge Mary Larkin imposed a suspended sentence

A WOMAN who assaulted a teenager “isn’t going to win the Booker prize any time soon” her solicitor told a local court, after she engaged in a “rant” on Facebook during which she claimed she is “some woman to break noses”.

Denise McCarthy, 21, of Riverside Way, Galbally was before Kilmallock Court charged with assault causing harm at Ryan’s Bar, Kilduff, Pallasgreen on September 16, 2012.

During a court hearing last July, it was heard that Ms McCarthy struck a 16-year-old girl in the face, breaking her nose after the teenager allegedly bit her on the upper thighs during a dispute over a boyfriend.

Kilmallock Court heard at the time that there had been a series of Facebook communications between both parties prior to the altercation during which, it was claimed, the victim stated that she had gone off with the defendant’s boyfriend.

Sergeant Michelle Leahy said that on the date in question, the defendant became involved in an altercation with a 16-year-old at the Pallasgreen pub.

The court also heard that during the altercation, the defendant hit the injured party in the face, breaking her nose.

Sgt Leahy pointed out that the defendant, who had no previous convictions, was very cooperative with the gardai.

Solicitor for Ms McCarthy, Karol Cunniffe, said that on the date in question his client was going in the direction of the toilets when there was an exchange of words between her and the injured party.

Mr Cunniffe said there had been a series of Facebook communications between both parties and the victim was saying that she had gone off with the defendant’s boyfriend.

He said his client told him that she had left the public house and went to the smoking area and the victim threw a pint glass at her. “My client says she was grabbed by the victim and the victim bit her on the legs,” he said, producing photographic evidence of the bite marks.

He said it was in an effort to stop the victim biting his client that she hit the victim on the face.

The court heard that Ms McCarthy is a single mother.

The court heard that a procedure had to be carried out on the injured party under general anaesthetic to put the nose bone back in place and the victim will always have a noticeable scar.

Judge Larkin ordered a victim impact report and asked for a Probation Services report on how best to deal with the matter.

At last Friday’s court sitting, Sgt Leahy told the court that the case had been adjourned from a previous court hearing to allow Garda Christopher Cowan time to make enquiries in relation to further comments “which may or may not have been made on Facebook”.

Sgt Leahy said that during the course of a probation report, it was said to the probation officer that comments had been made on the social networking site.

Garda Cowan told the court that he made contact with Ms McCarthy who gave him access to her Facebook account. “I could find nothing, but I won’t make myself an expert on Facebook,” said Garda Cowan.

He said the injured party provided him with print-outs of comments passed. Garda Cowan said it was “more of a rant” than comments made directly to her.

Sgt Leahy explained that on Facebook there is an option to converse privately or publicly. She said that nobody else outside of Ms McCarthy’s ‘friends’ should have been able to see the comments. “So it wasn’t on the wall is what you are saying?” asked Judge Larkin.

Garda Cowan said it was his belief that it wasn’t.

Judge Mary Larkin was handed a copy of the comments passed by the accused, Ms McCarthy.

Mr Cunniffe said: “My client certainly isn’t going to win the Booker prize any time soon looking at the comments”.

He said there was no evidence that any of the comments on social media were directed towards the victim.

Mr Cunniffe said that in the probation report it was stated that the victim had indicated she was upset by the posting of hurtful comments on social media but added that “there was no suggestion that they were directed specifically at her”.

Judge Mary Larkin asked Mr Cunniffe what he made of the comment: “I’m some woman too to break noses”.

Mr Cunniffe said that the comment was made to another individual in reference to something going on in her personal life.

Judge Larkin said it was “quite hard to believe that the person who wrote the comments is someone who you indicated to me has put her life in order and wants to move forward”.

Judge Larkin said she didn’t believe she could apply the Probation Act. In relation to the comments made, Mr Cunniffe said it was “the rameis that goes over and back on social media”.

“The language, the vulgarity, the constant use of expletives and this young woman wants to mind young children?” asked Judge Larkin.

Mr Cunniffe said his client is unemployed and hoping to resume her studies in November. Judge Mary Larkin made an order to convict and imposed a fine of €300. Recognizance was fixed in the event of an appeal.


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