Thursday 17 August 2017

'I'll dance on your brother, your mother and your Dad's head' - witness in star footballer's trial accepts he sent message

Darren McDermott claims he was assaulted. Picture: Courtpix
Darren McDermott claims he was assaulted. Picture: Courtpix

Declan Brennan

A WITNESS in the trial of international footballer Jeff Hendrick for alleged violent disorder has said he doesn't recall being a menace or slagging off the Irish football team on the night.

Darren McDermott has given evidence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Mr Hendrick (25) dragged him from a taxi outside a nightclub after a verbal row had broken out inside the club. He said he ended up on the ground and received kicks to his head, face, chest and back.

Soccer star Jeff Hendrick (25), originally from Kilmore Drive, Artane, leaves the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday. Picture: Collins
Soccer star Jeff Hendrick (25), originally from Kilmore Drive, Artane, leaves the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday. Picture: Collins

Mr Hendrick and a co-accused, Jonathan Doran (26), have both denied charges of committing violent disorder at Harcourt Street, Dublin on October 12, 2013. Mr Doran is also charged with assault of Mr McDermott causing him harm on the same location and has denied this charge.

On day two of the trial Mr McDermott was under cross-examination by Sean Gillane SC, defending Mr Hendrick. Mr Gillane put it to the witness that after he joined Mr Hendrick's group in Krystal nightclub he became “touchy feely”.

“Do you remember putting your arms around people, putting your arms around their necks, headlocks, becoming touchy feely?” counsel said. The witness said he couldn't recall.

Counsel said he had begun slagging Mr Hendrick's team mates, who had that night lost a match to Germany, calling them “crap and shite”. Mr McDermott said he couldn't remember this and denied that he had slagged Mr Hendrick's family.

He accepted that when Mr Hendrick asked him to leave their group he didn't. He said he instead asked Mr Hendrick “what the problem was”.

“I was trying to calm him down, will he relax?,” he testified. He said that Mr Hendrick “by all means...could have left if he wasn't happy”.

Mr Gillane put it to him that he had “become a bit of a menace and an annoyance” and said Mr Hendrick told him repeatedly to “fuck off”. He said he didn't remember becoming a menace.

Mr Gillane said that in his five witness statements to gardaí Mr McDermott had never said that Mr Hendrick said the words “I'll kill you” when pulling him from the taxi until he said this in evidence on the first day of the trial (TUES).

Mr McDermott replied: “Maybe not those exact words, but the threats were there”.

Counsel suggested the words were “introduced” by him as part of his “agenda to ensure Mr Hendricks is blackened” or to get revenge.

Mr McDermott denied he was out to get revenge but stated: “I blame him for everything that happened. He was the aggressor, he was the one who pulled me (from the taxi)”.

He denied that his animosity extended to him trying to affect his career and “trying to bring him down”.

He agreed with Mr Gillane that in March 2014 he sent a Tweet to Mr Hendrick saying “I'm looking forward to ending your career”.

He also accepted he sent a message stating: “I'll dance on your brother, your mother and your Dad's head, you're a scumbag”. He told Mr Gillane he was experiencing a lot of anger and suffering at the time.

"I'm not a violent person. That doesn't represent me,” he said.

Mr Gillane put it to him that the messages were evidence that he was “capable of salty language” that would “push particular buttons”. The witness said that the messages were part of a “back and forth” exchange.

Counsel put it to Mr McDermott that on the same day he sent the Tweet his solicitor wrote to Mr Hendrick claiming damages. The witness said he wasn't sure of the date but earlier he agreed he was suing Mr Hendrick.

Mr Hendrick, originally from Kilmore Drive, Artane, Dublin but now living in the UK and Mr Doran (26), of Kilmore Close, Artane deny the charges. The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury of seven men and five women.

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