A BARRISTER who head-butted a creche director and broke her nose has avoided being jailed.
Michael Waters (41), of Ava Avenue, Belfast, received a three-year suspended sentence and was told to "keep away" from his victim and any of her staff for 15 years.
He was found guilty by a majority verdict of assaulting the woman and causing her harm at her Dublin creche on January 4, 2012. He had denied the offence.
During the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, the victim told the court that she had been in her home office beside the creche on the day in question when one of her staff phoned her at about midday to say Waters had arrived.
She said she ran around to the creche where children were having dinner and asked to speak to Waters in her office. The woman claimed Waters said he wasn't leaving and became upset and pushed her twice, with his hands on her shoulders and then on her chest.
Some of the young children in the room began to cry and get upset when they saw the accused becoming "quite aggressive" towards her. She went outside the room with Waters, who turned to go back in.
The woman had her hand on the door blocking Waters from getting back in and said he was shouting and trying to bang her hand off the door.
She said Waters told her he was going to bite her and did try to bite her face and her hand. "He leaned back against the door and looked at me quite coldly and said: 'I'm going to hurt you'. Then he head-butted me straight into the face," she said.
The victim said she was totally shocked and her nose was bleeding. She said Waters told her: "I did nothing to you, you did that to yourself," before he turned, tripped over his feet and landed on the ground.
The court heard Waters has a muscle-wasting condition that leaves him unsteady on his feet and a staff member had previously seen him falling over. The woman said Waters stumbled and fell a second time, and that when a staff member came up the stairs and tried to help him, she told her to leave him because she was afraid he would get aggressive again.
Colm O'Briain, prosecuting, gave the court a victim impact report, in which the woman said she continues to suffer from stress, anxiety and distress as a result of the assault.
Counsel for Waters, Marie Torrens, said he accepts the verdict of the jury and has expressed remorse for the injuries he inflicted on the woman.
Judge Patricia Ryan gave Waters a three-year suspended sentence and ordered that he is to have no contact with the injured party, or her creche, for 15 years.