Tuesday 22 August 2017

Member of Defence Forces accused of assaulting fellow soldier in Lebanon

Irish Defence Forces Photo: Frank McGrath
Irish Defence Forces Photo: Frank McGrath

Liz Farsaci

A member of the Defence Forces has been accused of assaulting a fellow soldier while serving in Lebanon, a military court heard today.

Sgt Martin Dougan is accused of assaulting Corporal Niall McShane by striking him on the face on March 9 2014. The alleged incident took place while both men were serving with the Irish Defence Forces in Lebanon.

It is also alleged that Sgt Dougan was under the influence of an intoxicant on the day in question, the general court martial sitting, at the Military Justice Centre in McKee Barracks, Dublin 7, heard.

Sgt Dougan has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Cpl McShane said that on March 8 2014, while serving in Lebanon, he and four colleagues were given sanctioned overnight leave, to visit the city of Naqoura.

He said they went shopping, had something to eat, watched part of a rugby match, and then went to a pub for members of the Defence Forces.

Cpl McShane said that while there, there appeared to be some “animosity” between another serving member of the Forces, whom he had known for a long time, and Sgt Dougan.

He said Sgt Dougan appeared to have an issue with this other soldier, and challenged him to an arm wrestling contest. Sgt Dougan won.

Cpl McShane said that later in the evening, Sgt Dougan challenged him to an arm wrestling contest, which Cpl McShane won.

He said Sgt Dougan told him, “You’re strong”, and then turned on his heels and walked inside.

Cpl McShane said then as he walked into the pub, he saw Sgt Dougan in front of him.

“I was struck in the left eye – and that’s the last memory I have of that night,” Cpl McShane said. “The next memory I have is in the ambulance.”

Cpl Dougan said he suffered a deep laceration on the back of his head, cuts on various parts of his body, a swollen black eye, bruises on his face and a busted upper and lower lip. He was initially treated in hospital in Naqoura, and then in Beirut.

Sgt Bernard O’Reilly, who was in Cpl McShane’s unit in Lebanon, also gave evidence today. He said the first he heard of the incident was on the morning of March 9 2014, at about 8am. He met Cpl McShane in an ambulance.

“He was in a bad condition,” said Sgt O’Reilly. “His face was badly swollen and cut. He was not a pretty picture. He was frightened.”

The court martial is being heard before a board of officers, similar to a jury in other courts.

The case is due to last all week.

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