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Monday 22 September 2014

Stars of Circus TV show avoid jail for attack on pregnant woman

Conor Gallagher

Published 19/06/2013 | 15:18

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Former Governor of Mountjoy Prison John Lonergan was the host of the TV show Circus on which the two sisters appeared
Former Governor of Mountjoy Prison John Lonergan was the host of the TV show Circus on which the two sisters appeared

The victim of a vicious assault has spoken about her anger at seeing one of her attackers being “rewarded” with a trip to Paris as part of a RTE show.

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Julie McGregor was attacked with a baseball bat by sisters, Ciara Kiernan (18) and Sabrina Archbold (25), outside her apartment minutes after she had revealed to her friends that she was pregnant.

Today both sisters were given two year suspended sentences by Judge Mary Ellen Ring who noted it was a serious assault but that neither sister had any other convictions.

The sisters, both of Drumalee Grove, North Circular Road pleaded guilty to assault causing harm at Carnlough Road, Cabra on October 3, 2011.

The court heard that following the attack, Kiernan was approached by a television production company to appear on John Lonergan’s Circus. The reality television series, which was hosted by the former governor of Mountjoy, depicted wayward youths being rehabilitated through taking part in a circus.

Ms McGregor told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of her anger and shock at seeing how her attacker was taken to Paris as part of the show. She said it felt like Kiernan was being rewarded for the attack by getting to be on television and go on a foreign trip.

“I’ve always wanted to be on TV, I’ve always wanted to go to Paris, but I can’t afford it,” the victim said.

Ms McGregor said that the production company had asked her if she was comfortable with Kiernan going on the show and she said she was after Kiernan had apologised to her. However she told the judge she did not know the programme would be so “rewarding” to Kiernan and that she would get a foreign trip.

Michael Bowman BL, defending Kiernan, handed in letters from John Lonergan and the show’s producers which stated the show had a positive impact on her. Counsel added that she did go to Paris but it was “not the case that she benefited from the crime”.

Judge Ring said that she “can totally understand Ms McGregor’s position” and ordered both accused pay over €500 as compensation. She added that she hopes the victim can use this for a trip to Paris.

Garda Christopher Sweeny told prosecuting counsel Fiona Murphy BL that before the assault Archbold’s apartment had been ransacked and she mistakenly believed Ms McGregor was the culprit.

Ms McGregor had just told her friends and sister that was pregnant when she saw Kiernan and Archbold outside her home. She went out to tell them to leave and Archbold grabbed her by the hair while Kiernan hit her on over the head with a baseball bat.

Both were arrested shortly afterwards. Ms McGregor needed stitches to a 5cm wound on her head and suffered psychological problems afterwards. She began to suffer from depression but didn’t want to take medication because of her pregnancy. She later suffered a miscarriage.

Defence counsel for Archbold, Pieter Le Vert BL said his client suffered from mental health issues and had post-natal depression at the time. He said she lived in a chaotic home environment and that the HSE are trying to find her emergency accommodation.

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