Damage not deliberate, says man who ripped €10m Monet
A MAN accused of knocking a hole through a Claude Monet oil-painting at the National Gallery of Ireland, causing €7m worth of damage, told tourists nearby that he "felt faint", a court heard.
Andrew Shannon (48) is accused of putting his hand through Ireland's only painting by the famous French impressionist, entitled 'Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat'.
The painting dates from 1874 and is valued at about €10m.
Mr Shannon, with an address at Willans Way, Ongar, Dublin 15, told two tourists who witnessed the incident that he had "felt faint" and collapsed onto the painting.
He pleaded not guilty to causing criminal damage to the painting at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin on June 29, 2012.
Brendan Grehan, defending, said Mr Shannon accepts that the damage to the painting was caused by his hand coming into contact with the painting.
The court heard that Mr Shannon worked as a French polisher with Foyle Antiques, which has now closed.
Kerida Naidoo, prosecuting, told the jury that Mr Shannon was captured on CCTV footage entering and leaving the room in the Millennium Unit of the National Gallery, where the painting was hanging.
In his opening speech, Mr Naidoo said the incident happened at about 11am, and that gardai and an ambulance arrived within 15 minutes.
Two eye-witnesses who had been holidaying in Ireland at the time have travelled from New Zealand to give evidence.
Mr Naidoo said Mr Shannon had told a number of people, including the two tourists, that he had fallen or in some way collapsed against the painting.
He said the jury will hear that Mr Shannon's pulse was taken and he was given oxygen. However, after a short while the medics on the scene decided Shannon's condition was not a cause for concern.
Mr Grehan said his client has a history of heart problems, and was taken to hospital by ambulance after the incident.
Mr Shannon was then driven to a garda station, where he was seen by three different doctors over 12 hours in custody.
The trial continues before Judge Desmond Hogan and a jury of seven women and five men.