Thursday 17 August 2017

New trial date for TV fitness coach accused of assaulting ex-girlfriend

Francis Usanga leaving Dublin District Court yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts
Francis Usanga leaving Dublin District Court yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts

Andrew Phelan

A TV fitness instructor accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend has been given a new trial date after a complaint made about articles published in advance of the hearing was "sorted out".

Former 'Today' show fitness expert Francis Usanga's trial had been delayed after his defence brought the publications to the attention of a judge.

However, Dublin District Court heard yesterday that the prosecution and the defence had spoken and the non-jury trial could proceed.

Judge Gerard Jones adjourned the case to October 24.

Mr Usanga (29), of Lanesboro, Finglas, Dublin, denies assault causing harm to model Emma Murphy. The attack allegedly took place at FX Fitness gym in Santry on July 3, 2015.

A State solicitor said the case had been listed for hearing yesterday but this was vacated on Friday by Garda Inspector Michael Mulligan.

Emma Murphy leaving Dublin District Court yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts
Emma Murphy leaving Dublin District Court yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts

The alleged victim, Ms Murphy, and her solicitor John Hennessy were present, as were 'Sunday World' journalist Eugene Masterson and solicitor Kieran Kelly.

The State solicitor said the case had been initially set for hearing on November 22 last year but an issue had been brought to the court's attention - two publications in the 'Sunday World' on November 20 and the November issue of 'VIP' magazine.

This issue had given rise to defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe seeking for the hearing to be vacated, the State solicitor said.

He said on the last date, Judge Hugh O'Donnell had asked for the 'Sunday World' journalist to be in court.

Mr Hanahoe said he had spoken to the newspaper's legal representative, Mr Kelly, and "we have sorted matters out".

Mr Hanahoe did not require the journalist to be present.

The court heard the case would take two to three hours to hear and there would be video evidence.

The accused, wearing a navy top, black trousers and navy and white runners, did not address the court.

Previously, Insp Mulligan said it would be alleged that an altercation occurred following a dispute between both parties, and "there had been a series of rows".

Mr Usanga previously appeared in TV3's 'Red Rock' series and has also appeared as a fitness trainer on RTÉ's the 'Today' programme presented by Dáithí Ó Sé and Maura Derrane.

Irish Independent

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