Row between professional footballer Jeff Hendrick and another man was just 'drunken handbags', court hears
The row between professional footballer Jeff Hendrick and another man was just “drunken handbags”, according to his barrister.
Mr Hendrick and a co-accused, Jonathan Doran (26), have both denied charges of committing violent disorder at Harcourt Street, Dublin on October 12, 2013. Mr Doran is also charged with assault of Darren McDermott causing him harm on the same location and has denied this charge.
Mr McDermott has given evidence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Mr Hendrick (25) dragged him from a taxi outside a nightclub shortly after a verbal row inside the club. He said he ended up on the ground and received kicks to his head, face, chest and back.
Under cross-examination by Sean Gillane SC, defending Mr Hendrick, Mr McDermott said he couldn't recall becoming a menace or a nuisance to Mr Hendrick's group.
He said he couldn't recall Mr Hendrick saying “will you ever f**k off out of our group?”. He accepted that Mr Hendrick did ask him to leave the group and said he didn't know why.
He said Mr Hendrick had become aggressive. He said he instead asked Mr Hendrick “what the problem was”.
“I was trying to calm him down, will he relax?,” he testified. He said that Mr Hendrick “by all means...could have left if he wasn't happy”.
Mr Gillane put it to the witness that this was a case of “drunken handbags between two people in a nightclub which is run of the mill”. The witness agreed and said if it had ended at that moment he probably would never have thought of it again.
Counsel said that Mr Hendrick continued to shout at Mr McDermott and bouncers came over and Mr Hendrick was knocked to the ground. The witness said bouncers tackled Mr Hendrick to the ground and then ushered out of the club.
Mr McDermott said that some minutes later he left the nightclub himself and agreed that there were more “verbals” outside the nightclub.
Counsel said that his client was shouting at him “you f**king ruined my night” and put it to Mr McDermott that he “returned fire” and said to him “who the fuck do you think you are?”.
Mr McDermott said he may have said that but said there was no aggression coming from him. Mr Gillane said this was “more drunken handbags, fellas shouting at each other in drink, sadly a run of the mill experience”.
Yesterday Mr McDermott testified that after getting into a taxi Mr Hendrick and others surrounded the car. He said Mr Hendrick pulled him out of the taxi and said to him “I'll kill you”.
He denied a suggestion by Mr Gillane that he had never given evidence of this threat before and denied that he had “introduced” the words as part of an “agenda” to “blacken” the footballer's name.
He said it was a complete lie to suggest that Mr Hendrick didn't surround the taxi and didn't pull him out of it.
Mr McDermott denied he was out to get revenge on Mr Hendrick but added: “I blame him for everything that happened. He was the aggressor, he was the one who pulled me (from the taxi)”.
He denied that his animosity extended to him trying to affect his career and “trying to bring him down”.
The witness agreed that months after the incident he may have sent Mr Hendrick messages online saying “I'm looking forward to ending your career” and “I'll dance on your brother, your mother and your Dad's head, you're a scumbag”.
He told Mr Gillane he was experiencing a lot of anger and suffering at the time. He said he wasn't a violent person and that the messages were unrepresentative of him.
Counsel put it to Mr McDermott that on the same day he sent the message, his solicitor wrote to Mr Hendrick claiming damages. The witness said he wasn't sure of the date but he agreed he was suing the footballer and the nightclub for damages.
Mr Hendrick, originally from Kilmore Drive, Artane, Dublin but now living in the UK and Mr Doran of Kilmore Close, Artane deny the charges. The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury of seven men and five women.
Alan Kelly, a friend of Mr McDermott, told the trial that he and Mr McDermott were in Krystal nightclub when they met Mr Hendrick and his friends, some of whom Mr McDermott had coached football to in the past.
He said they were friendly and were having a laugh. He said he went to the toilet and when he returned there was an aggressive altercation taking place.
He said there was pushing and shoving and that some of the group were ganging up on Mr McDermott. He said he stepped in to try to diffuse the situation.
“All of a sudden it got quite aggressive,” he said, adding that the bouncers then got involved and ushered Mr Hendrick and his friends out. He said he and Mr McDermott decided to leave a few minutes later and saw Mr Hendrick and others at the bottom of the nightclub steps.
He said the bouncers refused to let Mr McDermott back into the nightclub. He said some of the men were shouting obscenities at Mr McDermott and pointing at him.
He said they were “all tetchy and aggressive towards him” and he tried to put him into a taxi. He said “they all chased after the taxi”.
Mr Kelly said he assumed the taxi had driven off and he left the scene himself.
He said he received a phone call about 10 minutes later and a woman told him that his friend was “after getting a bashing or a hiding”.