Farmer wins €43,000 from attacker who 'flattened' him over affair that never was
A FARMER yesterday won €43,000 damages following an assault by another man who wrongly believed he was having an affair with his wife.
Brendan Rooney (52), of Moneygold, Grange, Co Sligo, was left with a broken jaw, bruised face, rib injuries and post-traumatic stress.
He sued Michael Feeney, of Brookfield, Cliffoney, Co Sligo, over the unprovoked assault. Feeney did not defend the action.
A High Court jury of six men and six women was told by Mr Justice Eamon de Valera yesterday that its only task was to assess damages for injuries.
Fighting back tears, Mr Rooney told the court that he had never had an affair with Feeney's wife and that he continued to suffer emotional and physical scars from the incident.
Following an hour and 20 minutes of deliberation, the jury assessed total damages of €43,120, including €25,000 in compensatory and€12,500 in exemplary damages.
The court heard that Feeney pleaded guilty to the assault in Sligo District Court in July 2009 and after he paid €2,500 in compensation, he was dealt with under the Probation Act.
Feeney had claimed that the assault happened in a moment of madness. But Mr Rooney said he met Feeney on a road after the District Court case and Feeney spat at him. He did not believe Feeney's claim the pub assault was a moment of madness.
Mr Rooney, a father of three sons, said he knew Feeney and his wife socially and used to drink with them in the local pub.
On the morning of May 4, 2008, Mr Rooney said, he was working in a shed beside his home when Feeney walked in with his son. Feeney had taken drink, the court was told.
He accused Mr Rooney of having an affair with his wife and then poked him in the shoulder with an umbrella. Feeney then left with his son, telling Mr Rooney to "watch your back."
Mr Rooney said he did not say anything because he did not know what to say and had no idea where the other man got the idea that he was having an affair with his wife.
There was absolutely no truth in it, said Mr Rooney, who fought back tears a number of times as he gave evidence.
Asked by counsel if there was any time before this when things went sour between them, Mr Rooney replied: "Not at all."
He did not report the incident to the gardai because he was embarrassed and did not want his neighbours to find out.
Around three months later, on August 30, Mr Rooney was drinking in his local, Harrisons.
Feeney and his wife were also there at the other end of the bar.
Without warning, Feeney walked over and "flattened" him. Mr Rooney was taken to Sligo Hospital but discharged himself because the next day he was due to go on a week's holiday to Spain for his 25th wedding anniversary.
That was a mistake, he said, because apart from his other injuries, his jaw was broken and he was unable to eat. When he returned from holiday, he had to have surgery on his jaw and to this day he still had pain.
The psychological effect remained with him, and he hardly ever socialised now, he told the court. He was frightened of coming across Feeney again, he said. He underwent 12 counselling sessions and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mr Rooney's wife Carmel said he used to go out regularly to socialise and dance but it was very hard to get him to go out anywhere now.