Tuesday 25 July 2017

Pair accused of ref attack ask for case to be dismissed

Joseph Conlon
Joseph Conlon
Paul Grimes
GAA refereee Martin Sludden at Croke Park in July 2010

Tom Tuite

LAWYERS have asked a judge to dismiss the case against two men accused of attacking a referee after the controversial 2010 Leinster football final because he has withdrawn his complaint.

Martin Sludden had been confronted by Louth fans after he allowed a goal to Meath in the closing seconds of the crucial match at Croke Park.

The Co Tyrone-based referee later admitted he was wrong to award the score, which cost Louth the Leinster Championship.

Joseph Conlon (23), of Marlbog Road, Haggardstown, Dundalk; and Paul Grimes (50), with an address at Willowdale Bay Estate, Dundalk, have denied charges of assaulting Mr Sludden at Croke Park on July 11, 2010.

Yesterday Judge Bridget Reilly heard that Mr Sludden had initially made a complaint to gardai but later withdrew it, and the prosecution was relying on video evidence.

Footage obtained from RTE was viewed in court, showing supporters pouring on to the pitch and remonstrating with Mr Sludden seconds after the final whistle. It also showed him being pushed and jostled by Louth fans.

Two Co Louth-based gardai told the judge that they recognised the two defendants when they saw television coverage of the match.

Garda Sergeant Shay Roche, of Mountjoy station, was on duty at Croke Park for the final. He told the judge that a large number of supporters were acting "erratically" on the pitch.

He brought Mr Conlon to the players' tunnel in the stadium to record his details. He said Mr Conlon was agitated and gave an incorrect address before he was walked out of Croke Park.

On a later date, Gda Sgt Roche interviewed him and showed him the TV footage. Mr Conlon identified himself in the video and said: "I saw myself pushing the referee. I had no intention of doing anything to the referee except telling him what I thought."

Evidence

Lawyers for both defendants asked the judge to dismiss the case. They argued that under Section Two of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act, the prosecution needed to prove that the complainant did not give consent for force to be used against him.

They argued that the alleged injured party needed to give that evidence but he had withdrawn his complaint and was not present for the hearing yesterday.

In reply, solicitor Michael Durkan, for the State, argued that the case could proceed because the court could note events shown in the television footage evidence, including the demeanour of the referee and that he ran off the pitch.

Judge Reilly adjourned the case until a date in March to consider the defence argument.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News