Chunk the size of €2 coin bitten from man's cheek

Published 19/07/2014 | 12:00

Peter Waters

A Bray man was bitten in the cheek two weeks before his wedding, leaving him with a visible scar, Wicklow Circuit Court heard last week.

Nicholas Finn, who now lives in Rathstewart, Athy, but who was at the time living on the Killarney Road in Bray, denied biting Peter Waters on the cheek causing him harm at Strand Road on September 23, 2012.

A jury of 10 men and two women took less than an hour to convict Finn of the assault and he was also found guilty of being intoxicated in a public place and engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour on the same occasion.

Garda Stephanie Hallahan said she saw a fight break out between the men outside the Martello and a number of people trying to break it up. As she approached, the fight ended and she spoke with Finn whom she said was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. She said he had blood on his T-shirt and Finn was arrested for public order offences.

Peter Waters said he was out on the night with his sister Natalie Waters and her boyfriend Karl Sugrue.

Mr. Waters said he was outside trying to hail a taxi and said he was aware a 'situation was starting to develop but I wasn't sure why'. He said an 'atmosphere' developed between him and Finn whom he had never seen before and there was 'some back and forth' between the two.

He said the 'back and forth escalated' and said he believed Finn swung at his head with a fist and his reaction was to defend himself. 'I fought back,' he said adding that both men wrestled to the ground. 'Our two bodies came together and we were holding each other with our arms wrapped around each other,' said Mr. Waters. He said Mr. Sugrue had tried to separate them but they were 'completely tied up with each other'. He said Finn bit his left cheek as they fell saying he 'remembers the sensation of being bitten but didn't know the extent of it'. He said it was a 'short, sharp pain'.

An ambulance arrived quickly on the scene and he was brought to St. Vincent's Hospital where he was treated for the wound, receiving plastic surgery.

Photos taken by his father at the hospital following the assault were produced in court showing the injury.

Under cross-examination from Kate O'Toole, BL, for Finn, Mr. Waters denied he had seen Finn earlier in the night in the Koo nightclub and denied making a gesture indicating he was watching Finn. Mr. Waters said he couldn't remember the words spoken between him and Finn outside the club but said he imagined it was something like 'what's your problem'.

He denied making very offensive comments to Finn's fiancée, Simone McGuinness, indicating he would have sex with her and denied groping her bum 'more or less assaulting her'.

Mr. Waters said he was getting married two weeks after the incident adding: 'I know who I am, that didn't happen'. He said he is 'very happily married now with two young children'.

Mr. Waters also denied passing comment on Ms. McGuinness's legs and also denied searching out Finn outside the nightclub, saying 'that's just simply not true'.

Karl Sugrue said he saw Mr. Waters and Finn in 'a cheek to cheek embrace' and he attempted to break up the row but stumbled as both Mr. Waters and Finn fell to the ground.

He said he believed that as both Mr. Waters and Finn fell a 'chunk' could have been taken out of Mr. Waters' face.

Natalie Waters said she had seen a verbal argument between her brother Peter and Finn but couldn't hear what was being said. Ms. Waters said Finn swung at her brother and Peter Waters defended himself and both men got into a clench embrace. During the incident, she saw her boyfriend Karl Sugrue attempting to stop the row between Mr. Waters and Finn. She said the men fell and were separated and Mr. Sugrue, her brother and herself walked a short distance away.

Ms. Waters said Finn's fiancée, Simone McGuinness, then followed them and said she was 'very embarrassed by the row and was sorry'.

Ms. Waters said she noticed a 'big gap on the left side of (Peter's) face on his cheek' and it 'seemed like a big hollow in his face, the size of a €2 coin. It was very deep and he (Peter) said he had been bitten'.

George Pegman, who was in the company of Finn and Ms. McGuinness on the night, also gave evidence for the State. He said he knew Finn for about five months having worked with him in Greenstar Waste Management.

He said he hadn't noticed anything untoward between Finn and Mr. Waters during the night and said he hadn't noticed Mr. Waters making hand gestures.

Mr. Pegman said outside the club he was with Ms. McGuinness and said he didn't see anything happen to her. He said he saw Finn fighting with Mr. Waters and they were 'both throwing punches'. He went to intervene but Finn 'wasn't having any of it, he basically went through me. He didn't want to stop. I put out my hand and he went around me to get to' Mr. Waters.

He said after Finn was arrested he brought Ms. McGuinness home and they spoke for more than an hour during which time she never mentioned being groped by Mr. Waters.

When he later spoke to Finn following his release from garda custody, Finn said Mr. Waters had 'dropped the hand' on Ms. McGuinness.

In his own evidence Finn, a native of Roscommon, said he noticed Mr. Waters staring at him and Ms. McGuinness in the Koo and saw him gesture at him. He said he felt scared and intimated.

Outside the club he said he heard Mr. Waters say 'here's this pr**k again' and then Mr. Waters made offensive comments about Ms. McGuinness before touching her bum.

He said Ms. McGuinness pushed Mr. Waters away but 'he didn't back off', saying 'he continued to leave his hand where he shouldn't have it'. Finn said: 'We got into a boxing match. We got into wrestling and wrestled to the ground.'

He said that he didn't remember biting Mr. Waters. 'I wouldn't do a thing like that. It's never something I set out to do. The pictures (of the injury) surprised me as they did you.'

Under cross-examination he said he hadn't mentioned the alleged groping to gardai on the night because he 'felt intimidated' and just 'gave a brief outline'.

Simone McGuinness said she noticed Mr. Waters staring at them in the Koo and she was 'scared and worried something would happen'.

She said outside Mr. Waters passed comment on her legs and made offensive comments about her. She also said he touched her bum and wouldn't leave her alone. Ms. McGuinness said a row ensued between Finn and Mr. Waters.

She said she didn't make a complaint of sexual assault against Mr. Waters because she was 'too worried for' Finn.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty on all three charges having deliberated for 46 minutes and the case was adjourned until December 9 to allow for the preparation of a victim impact report and a probation report.

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