A FORMER Dublin football player has been acquitted of breaking an off-duty garda's jaw during a football match.
Brendan McManamon (31) of Cypress Downs, Templeogue had pleaded not guilty to the assault on former Longford player Garda Enda Ledwith at Na Fianna GAA Club, St Mobhi Road, Glasnevin on March 31, 2012.
The Dublin Circuit Criminal Court trial heard that Gda Ledwith’s jaw was broken during the last ten minutes of a match between Na Fianna and St Jude’s of Templeogue.
Gda Ledwith was playing for the home team, while the accused was with St Jude’s.
Mr McManamon gave evidence in the trial and claimed he was reacting to his opponent hitting him in his testicles first.
The court heard that Gda Ledwith spent three days in hospital for his fractured jaw and had three metal plates inserted during surgery.
The jury of nine men and three women had been deliberating for one hour and 52 minutes before returning a verdict of not (NOT) guilty on day six of the trial. The jury had earlier requested to re-watch video footage of the match.
During the trial, Gda Ledwith, a former Longford player, refuted the allegation that he had kicked Mr McManamon in the testicles and said he would have hit him at chest height.
“I wouldn't stoop so low. I've never, ever done that,” he said.
Gda Ledwith said he had been playing in the right corner back position and was marking the accused, who he knew from previous matches, for the whole game.
He said the game had been very innocuous and had passed off without incident “with no real slagging or cursing” until ten minutes from the end when both players collided.
Gda Ledwith said the ball was in the other end of the field and that their paths had simply crossed, which he said happens commonly when marking someone.
He said Mr McManamon punched him in the chest and he pushed him back as hard as he could and told him to “Fuck off”.
Gda Ledwith said that up to that point it was “handbags more than anything else”, adding that Gaelic football is a “physical game” and that these things happen.
But he said Mr McManamon then “seemed to snap” and started throwing punches at him, making contact with his face at least twice.
“His demeanour changed, to become more pumped up or aggressive,” said Gda Ledwith.
He said blood started to pour from his mouth and he went down on his hunkers and put his hand up to his mouth and felt that his teeth had caved in.
Gda Ledwith said Mr McManamon was roaring at him but he doesn't remember what he said, and that the accused was then given a straight red card and sent off.
The team physio gave Gda Ledwith an icepack and he told her “My f**king jaw is broken,” and got into an ambulance.
Gda Ledwith said the accused put his head into the ambulance and apologised, saying something like, “Look, I'm sorry for what happened, these things happen on the pitch and stay on the pitch.”
Gda Ledwith said he just pulled his jacket over his head as he was in shock and didn't want to interact with the accused.
He spent three days in St James Hospital and later underwent surgery to get three plates in his jaw and one tooth extracted to facilitate screws.
Gda Ledwith said he still had numbness on the left side of his jaw and that his jaw locks up in times of stress.
Mr McManamon told his counsel, Breffni Gordon BL, that he was playing left corner forward on the day in question and that Gda Ledwith was marking him quite closely for the whole game.
“I was trying to play a forward’s game and he was trying to play a back’s game,” he explained.
He was asked to watch some footage of the match being played frame by frame, and to explain what was happening.
“The two of us are facing each other. I’m facing the goal and ball,” he continued. “This is where he draws his left hand back to strike me.”
Mr McManamon said Gda Ledwith then struck him between his legs, hitting his testicles.
“As soon as he hit me, I reacted,” he said. “I swung my right hand out there in defence, in self defence as a reaction to being hit.”
He said he told the referee that Gda Ledwith had hit him first.
“I was in a lot of pain at that stage,” he said. “He gave me a red card and I walked off the pitch.”
He agreed with his barrister that he admitted from the start that he had hit Gda Ledwith and caused his broken jaw.
“I wouldn’t want to hurt anybody, especially an injury like that. That’s why I wanted to see after the match was he ok,” he said, referring to his apology to Gda Ledwith before he was taken away in an ambulance.
The accused said that it wasn’t a nice feeling to have caused such an injury.
“I didn’t feel right for a while. It was a place I’d never been before,” he said.
He said he had never punched anyone during a GAA match or done anything like that.
“I’d never been struck in the testicles by a player before,” he added.
“GAA is a physical game,” he said, indicating that he had been shouldered. “But when it’s a strike to an area so sensitive, that’s a different story.”