Tuesday 25 October 2016

Man (48) lost eye after being struck with pool ball in pub, court told

Published 04/11/2015 | 18:05

Richard Butler of Castlewood Gardens, Pollerton Road, Carlow, pictured leaving the Four Courts
Richard Butler of Castlewood Gardens, Pollerton Road, Carlow, pictured leaving the Four Courts

A 48-YEAR-old man lost his eye after being struck by a with another man wielding a pool ball following an altercation in a public house, the High Court heard.

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Richard Butler lost his left eye, and spent eight days in hospital after being struck by Joseph Phillips at McSuils public house in Castlehill, Carlow, around 5pm on July 17, 2012.

Mr Butler says he suffered the horrendous eye injury while holding back Phillips, who he said had hit another person who was also in the pub.

It is claimed Phillips had been drinking in the pub for several hours before the incident.   He had been acting in an aggressive manner stating he had "escaped from Shelton Abbey prison" and was "a member of the IRA," it was claimed.

Due to his injuries Mr Butler a former ceramic tiler of Castlewood Gardens, Pollerton Road, Carlow, now wears a prosthetic eye, which the court heard frequently pops out causing him great embarrassment. 

Arising out of the incident, Mr Butler has sued Phillips,  St Joseph's Terrace, Athy, who is currently serving a sentence at the Midlands Prison for the assault.  He has also sued the pub owners Noel Walker and his son Ken Walker.

Mr Butler alleges the publicans should have known of Phillips violent propensity before the savage attack.

They should have evicted Phillips from the pub as soon as they became aware of his level of intoxication.

The pub owners  deny the claims and reject assertions the assault was foreseeable and that they should have taken steps to prevent  it from occurring. The pub is no longer open.

Judgment in default of putting in a defence has already been entered against Phillips. 

He is in court however, representing himself, as the issue of quantum of damages against him has to be decided.

At the start of the case Wednesday (Nov 4),  Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told by counsel for the pub owners that witnesses were afraid about giving evidence due to Phillips's presence in court.

Opening the case, Jeremy Maher SC, for Mr Butler, said the crux of the case against the pub is if the assault was foreseeable.

While the publicans have denied this, and say the attack came out of the blue, it was his client's case that it was foreseeable given Phillips behaviour in the pub before the attack occurred.

Mr Butler told the court he had been in the pub for four hours.

Philips, who he said he did not know before the incident, was "loud and aggressive to everyone" in the pub and "a troublemaker".

Mr Butler also said that at one stage Phillips threw chips at a dog belonging to  another patron of the pub.

Phillips was telling people how he "escaped from prison that morning" and was "a member of the IRA," Mr Butler said.

Phillips was unsteady on his feet and was "stumbling" into people trying to get them to give him a cigarette.

Around 5pm he said Phillips struck another man in Mr Butler's company, who he said was not expecting to be hit, knocking him to the ground.

He said he held back Phillips, and as he turned to look at the person who was struck, Philips then hit him with the pool ball.   The eye was severely damaged and he was driven to hospital in Waterford by  Ken Walker.

Under cross examination, Mr Butler insisted his version of events was correct. 

He said he went to the pub once a week and denied that he had been barred from McSuils.

He also denied he knew Philips before the incident, but accepted that he did know relatives of Philips.

The case continues.

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