A WELL-known County Limerick publican was acquitted of assaulting a woman during an incident outside his pub almost two years ago.
Throughout a two-day trial at Limerick Circuit Court, Denis Collins, 71, had denied assaulting Julie D’Arcy, 25, outside Punch’s pub, Main Street Patrickswell in the early hours of August 6, 2012.
In her evidence, Ms D’Arcy, who lives at Greenmount Avenue, Patrickswell said she was punched in the face by Mr Collins after she was refused entry to the licenced premises at around 1.30am.
Ms D’Arcy told Michael Collins BL, prosecuting, that she had had been socialising at another pub in the village earlier in the night and that she had gone to Punch’s, which is also known locally as Collins’, to find a friend.
She said she was stopped from going into the bar by the defendant who, she said “out of nowhere” became aggressive and started verbally abusing her.
“He called me a low life s****** and said you’re not going into my pub,” Ms D’Arcy told the jury before adding that she was “hit straight into the face” by Mr Collins when she protested.
A number of Ms D’Arcy’s friends then intervened and calmed the situation before gardai were called.
Ms D’Arcy said she attended “Limerick Doc” the morning after the incident and attended her GP, the following day.
While she was initially told she had sustained a fractured cheekbone, it subsequently transpired that this was not the case.
Ms D’Arcy told the court she still experiences some pain and discomfort and that she also suffered “whiplash type injuries” as a result of the incident.
On cross examination by Mary-Rose Gearty SC, representing Mr Collins, the witness agreed that she has initiated HIgh Court proceedings against Mr Collins arising from the incident and that she is “suing him for more than €38,000”.
She disagreed with suggestions that she was barred from the pub on the night of the incident as a result of a separate incident on St Patrick’s Day, 2011 when she was “kicked in the head” while in the pub.
Ms Gearty put it to the witness that she had been involved in several other incidents, all of which happened during Bank Holiday weekends.
Ms D’Arcy agreed that she had been arrested for public order offences in July 2010 and that “four or five years ago” she ended up in hospital after she took a substance called “Whack” which she bought in a head shop.
The jury was told that Mr Collins denied punching Ms D’Arcy when he made a statement to gardai a number of days after the incident.
He said when he refused to allow Ms D’Arcy into the pub, he informed her friend (who was in the pub) that she was outside.
A short time later he said Ms D’Arcy “lunged at me with her head” and he told gardai that his hands “may have made contact” with her face as he stumbled backwards.
Mr Collins said Ms D’Arcy was “wobbly on her feet” and that he believed she was drunk.
Tom McDonnell, who was called as a defence witness, said he had been socialising in Punch’s on the night of the incident.
He told the jury that as he was “going for a bag of chips” he noticed an altercation at the door involving Mr Collins and a “group of girls”, who were trying to get in.
Mr McDonnell said one of the girls “drove at him (Mr Collins) with her head and he fell back into the porchway”.
He told Ms Gearty that he did not see the defendant punching anyone.
In her closing speech, Ms Gearty urged the jury to acquit her client submitting the Prosecution case was “inconsistent and incoherent”.
She said the State witnesses had given diffent versions of what had happened on the night and she described them as a “shocking collection of witnesses”.
Following two and half hours of deliberations this Wednesday, the jury of nine men and three women returned with a majority not guilty verdict.