Sunday 22 October 2017

TV fitness coach assault trial delayed

Francis Usanga arrives at the Dublin District Court. Pic Collins Courts.
Francis Usanga arrives at the Dublin District Court. Pic Collins Courts.

Tom Tuite

The trial of TV fitness instructor Francis Usanga for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend has been delayed following a newspaper article which claims to include an interview with the complainant.

The 29-year-old former Today Show fitness expert, of Lanesboro, Finglas, north Dublin, is accused of assault causing harm to model Emma Murphy.

The attack allegedly took place at FX Fitness gym in Santry in north Dublin on July 3 last year.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge and his non-jury trial at Dublin District Court was due to get underway yesterday.

However, when the case was called, his solicitor Michael Hanahoe said he intended to complain to the DPP over the possibility of contempt of court as a result of the publication of an interview with Ms Murphy in the latest edition of Sunday World.

Mother-of-two, Ms Murphy (26) a model and fitness blogger, was at the courthouse supported by family members. She had been expected to give evidence yesterday.

Model and mother-of-two Emma Murphy accuses former Today Show fitness instructor Francis Usanga of attacking her at a gym. Pic Collins Courts.
Model and mother-of-two Emma Murphy accuses former Today Show fitness instructor Francis Usanga of attacking her at a gym. Pic Collins Courts.

A state solicitor told the court that Ms Murphy did not give permission for the article.

A copy of the piece was handed in to Judge Hugh O'Donnell who described it as "outrageous". He adjourned the trial until April 25 and ordered the author of the article, Eugene Masterson, to attend the hearing on that date to explain why it was published a few days before the trial was due to start.

Dressed in a navy suit and tie and white shirt, Mr Usanga remained silent throughout the proceedings.

The DPP has directed summary disposal.

This means the case should not be sent forward to the circuit court, which has tougher sentencing powers. Earlier, medical reports were shown to the court, which also heard an outline of the allegations.

"It will be alleged that the altercation occurred following a dispute between both parties, there had been series of rows," Garda Inspector Michael Mulligan has told the court.

Jurisdiction was accepted meaning the case will remain in the district court which, on conviction, can impose a sentence of up to 12 months as well as fine.

Mr Usanga previously appeared in TV3's Red Rock series and has also appeared as a fitness trainer on RTé's The Today Show presented by Daithi O Se and Maura Derrane.

At a previous hearing, free legal aid was granted after a statement of Mr Usanga's means was seen by the court, which was also told he is unemployed.

The charge is under Section Three of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.

Irish Independent

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