A Carlow man has been convicted of a vicious assault on a stranger that left him with significant facial scars.
James Kehoe (30) threw a glass in Mark Connolly’s face at Horan’s Bar in Baltinglass, Wicklow, on St Patrick’s night 2010.
He claimed throughout his trial that he had done so in self-defence after Mr Connolly had been aggressive towards him.
Kehoe of Raheendoran, Carlow, who delivers bottled gas in the local area, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Mr Connolly causing him harm and to intentionally or recklessly causing him serious harm at Horans Bar, Main Street, Baltinglass.
He also denied a charge of assaulting James Gahan causing him harm on the same date and in the same place.
The jury found Kehoe not guilty of assaulting Mr Gahan and acquitted him of causing Mr Connolly serious harm on the fifth day of the trial.
The jurors convicted him, following almost four hours’ deliberations, of assaulting Mr Connolly causing him harm.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring thanked the jurors for their attention during the trial and excused them from duty for six years.
She adjourned the case to December for sentence and remanded Kehoe on continuing bail until that time after hearing an application to revoke his bail from Garda Pat Culleton.
Paul Murray BL, prosecuting, told the jury in opening the case that the three men were out socialising in Baltinglass that night and neither of the alleged victims knew Kehoe before that night.
The trial heard evidence from a number of witnesses from Baltinglass who told the jury that they saw local man, Mr Connolly, get a glass in the face, but not everyone was able to identify Kehoe as the culprit.
The jury was shown CCTV footage of the incident and heard from publican Eamon Horan of how he assisted Mr Connolly outside the premises.
A scuffle followed the attack after a number of people sought out Kehoe and a glass frame surrounding a signed Celtic jersey was smashed during the fracas.
The jury heard evidence from Mr Connolly and his girlfriend Abbie Kirton, who was with him in the bar at the time, via video link as the couple have since emigrated to Christ Church in New Zealand.
Mr Connolly pointed to scars on his face, one below his left eye and the second on his jaw and told Mr Murray, “It’s not pretty, is it?”
He said he did not see the glass coming at him and had no idea why it happened.
He did not know who was responsible and had no recollection of what he had said to his attacker beforehand.
Mr Connolly was later treated in Naas Hospital where he received 21 or 22 stitches to his face
He said he could not remember being aggressive in the pub earlier in the night and did not accept a suggestion from Dominic McGinn SC, defending, that he “brought this incident upon yourself”.
“I am sure I would remember if I had asked someone to strike me in the face with a glass,” Mr Connolly said.
He said he did not remember gesticulating at someone in an aggressive way but said it is something he could have done.
He accepted that he could have been threatening but said he could “equally have been talking about the weather”.
Mr Connolly told Mr Murray in re-examination; “I don’t think pointing my finger at someone or saying something to someone else warrants a glass in the face. That is pretty hardcore”.
Mr Gahan told the jury he saw Kehoe throw the glass at Mr Connolly but didn’t know who he was at the time. He later restrained the man and claimed that Kehoe bit him so hard on the leg he had to prise open the man’s jaws to get free.
Gda Culleton said Kehoe has been convicted of two offences, threatening and abusive behaviour and obstruction, since he was charged with assaulting Mr Connolly in October 2010.
He is also awaiting sentence for assaulting a detective sergeant and has 17 further previous convictions which included assault causing harm and a jail term for attempted robbery passed down in Carlow Circuit Criminal Court.
Gda Culleton told the court he feared that Kehoe would offend again as he admitted in garda interview that he has a “short temper”.
He said he was also worried about witnesses in the trial that Kehoe would seek retribution.
Mr McGinn said that his client’s father was willing to act as an independent surety and reminded Judge Ring that Mr Connolly is still living in New Zealand.
He said Kehoe has attended for two counselling sessions to help him manage his temper.