A JUDGE said she would have convicted two hairdressers seen on CCTV pulling each other’s hair during a brawl in a salon, if she could have.
Danielle O’Dwyer, aged 27, of Aisling Heights, Raheen was found not guilty of assaulting Teresa Shanahan, proprietor of Croc’s Hair and Beauty, Clarina, on December 12, 2013.
Ms Shanahan said at 10am she had arranged to meet Ms O’Dwyer to give her her P45 and wages.
“She walked out five or six weeks previously. She was to return the keys, a hairdryer and products. I had her wages ready. The hairdryer had already been used so I couldn’t retail it. The Crew products were damaged and one Crew bag was missing.
“She said, ‘I’m not paying for it, tough’, I said, ‘Give me the box’ [containing the hairdryer],” said Ms Shanahan.
Then Ms O’Dwyer dropped the box and “went for my head” said Ms Shanahan.
“She [Ms O’Dwyer] dragged me down to the ground. She was pulling my hair. It came out in chunks. I’ve never seen somebody so aggressive, so vicious.
“She is so small, no offence. Even the girls couldn’t understand. It was a moment of madness. I couldn’t get her hands off my head. The girls tried to pull her off me,” said Ms Shanahan.
CCTV footage was shown on a number of occasions to Judge Mary Larkin in Kilmallock Court. While the alleged assault was taking place the Christmas Gospel song When Christ Was Born was playing on the radio.
Inspector Brian O’Donovan put it to Ms Shanahan that Ms O’Dwyer started the fight and she said yes.
Ms O’Dwyer’s solicitor, Audrey Browne, said the reason her client walked out wsa because Ms Shanahan had been bullying her for the previous 18 months. This was denied.
Ms Browne said Ms Shanahan was angered on the day because she was not invited to Ms O’Dwyer’s sister’s [Nicola McDonagh] birthday party like other staff. Nicola is a former employee of Croc’s.
“No, they go out every weekend. I have four kids,” said Ms Shanahan.
There was a conflict in cross examination over the hairdryer.
“Just leave the hairdryer,” interjected Judge Mary Larkin.
“She [Ms O’Dwyer] asked you for the money in wages owed. You said, ‘You are not getting it.’ She said she is keeping the hairdryer. You then grabbed my client by the shoulder and dragged her to the ground,” said Ms Browne.
“That’s not true,” said Ms Shanahan.
The fight started just outside but then continued inside the salon.
“You pushed Danielle to the ground,” suggested Ms Browne.
“That’s not true,” said Ms Shanahan.
“You were on top of her outside,” said Ms Browne.
“No,” replied the complainant.
“You would not let her go. Your staff tried to pull you off her?”
“Did you pull any part of her hair?” asked Ms Browne.
“I could have, I had to defend myself as any normal person would. I’m not going to tell any lies,” said Ms Shanahan, who added that she was trying to get the hairdryer because Ms O’Dwyer wasn’t going to pay for it.
Lisa O’Connor, an employee of Croc’s Hair Salon, was the next witness. She said she “was down the back of the salon”.
“I heard them talking about the hairdryer. I heard fighting and I tried to break it up. I was pulling Teresa back trying to get Danielle’s hands off Teresa’s hair,” said Ms O’Connor.
Ms Browne referred to her statement to gardai in which she said: “I saw Teresa go to get the hairdryer and Danielle hit aback.”
Ms Browne said Ms O’Connor couldn’t have seen this if she was “down the back of the salon”.
“We have mirrors. You can see through the door. I knew they were arguing about the hairdryer,” said Ms O’Connor.
Ms Browne said there was a “serious conflict in evidence”.
The next witness was beauty therapist Aisling Stack, who didn’t see the start.
“Teresa was on the ground. Lisa was saying to Danielle, ‘Get off of her’,” said Ms Stack.
Ms Browne asked why she didn’t mention Ms Shanahan pulling Danielle’s hair.
“I didn’t see it,” said Ms Stack.
Ms O’Dwyer took the stand and said when she entered Croc’s Ms Shanahan told her “I wasn’t getting my wages”.
“I said, ‘Fine, I’ll take the hairdryer’. She pulled me by the scarf, punched me in the face and pulled my hair. I couldn’t get away from her. My sister called the guards – she was upset,” said Ms O’Dwyer.
Ms Browne asked the defendant why she left Croc’s.
“Teresa bullied me. On November 30 she called a staff meeting and shouted at me because she wasn’t invited to my sister’s birthday party,” said Ms O’Dwyer.
Judge Larkin asked her if she had received her wages.
“No, that’s why I took the hairdryer. She owed me €50,” she said.
Ms O’Dwyer told the court that she was the one on the ground and suffered injuries including a bruised hip, black eye, bruising to the arms and loss of hair.
“I was holding her hair to defend myself,” said Ms O’Dwyer.
Insp O’Donovan put it to Ms O’Dwyer that she instigated the assault.
“What I see on the CCTV is you lunging back which started the fight as if to put it up to her,” said Insp O’Donovan.
Ms O’Dwyer said no.
“Why not give her the hairdryer?” asked Insp O’Donovan. “She wouldn’t give me my wages,” said Ms O’Dwyer.
The inspector said at “no stage did I see any punches” and asked Ms O’Dwyer about the chunks of hair on the ground.
“That was my hair too,” said Ms O’Dwyer.
Judge Larkin asked Ms O’Dwyer why she didn’t leave Ms Shanahan’s hair go.
“She wouldn’t leave go of me,” said Ms O’Dwyer.
Insp O’Donovan said Ms Shanahan stretched out to take the hairdryer, “you pulled it from her, lunged back and instigated it”.
Ms O’Dwyer said no. Her sister, Nicola McDonagh, was the last witness. She said she was the only one “with a clear view” and backed up her sibling’s testimony.
“I was pregnant and cautious and telling her [Teresa] to let go,” said Ms McDonagh, who admitted trying to stop Teresa with her leg.
Insp O’Donovan said for a girl who was cautious or nervous she had no difficulty getting involved in the fight.
“She is my sister, I was trying to stop her from getting hurt,” said Ms McDonagh.
Insp O’Donovan said at the end of the day the sisters talked about what happened.
In conclusion, Ms Browne said the CCTV footage speaks for itself.
Judge Larkin said she was not impressed by either party – Ms O’Dwyer or Ms Shanahan.
“I’m not impressed, I will leave it at that. I would convict both of them if charged but I won’t convict one without the other,” said Judge Larkin, who dismissed the assault charge against Ms O’Dwyer.