Tuesday 21 November 2017

Belfast barrister convicted of assaulting creche manager

Jessica Magee

A 41-year-old Belfast barrister has been convicted of head-butting a Dublin crèche director and breaking her nose.

Michael Waters of Ava Avenue, were found guilty by a majority verdict of assaulting the woman and causing her harm at her crèche on January 4, 2012. He had pleaded not guilty to the offence.

The jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court took two and a half hours to return the verdict on day three of the trial.

During the trial, the victim told prosecuting barrister Colm O'Briain BL that she had been in her home office beside the crèche on the day in question when one of her staff phoned her at about midday to say Waters had arrived.

She said she ran around to the crèche, went upstairs to a room where children were having dinner, and asked to have a word with Waters in her office.

The woman claimed Waters said he wasn't leaving. She said when she repeated that she wanted to have a chat by themselves, he became upset and pushed her twice, with his two hands on her shoulders and then on her chest.

The woman said some of the young children in the room began to cry and get upset when they saw Waters becoming “quite aggressive” towards her.

She went outside the room with Waters, who turned to go back in.

The woman said she had her hand on the door handle blocking Waters from getting back in, and that he was shouting and trying to bang her hand off the door.

She said the accused told her he was going to bite her, and did try to bite her face and her hand.

“He leant back against the door and looked at me quite coldly and said 'I'm going to hurt you'. Then he head-butted me straight into the face,” she said.

The victim said she was totally shocked and her nose was bleeding. She said Waters told her “I did nothing to you, you did that to yourself” before he turned, tripped over his feet and landed on the ground.

The court heard that Waters has a condition that leaves him unsteady on his feet and that a staff member had previously seen him falling over.

The woman said Waters stumbled and fell a second time, and that when the cook came up the stairs and tried to help him, she told her to leave him because she was afraid he would get aggressive again.

The jury were shown photographs of the woman's injuries including a fractured nasal bone which required surgery, and bruising to her eyes and arms.

Waters, who took to the witness box to give evidence, told defence barrister Marie Torrens BL that the allegations made against him were “complete fiction” and “a blatant lie”.

He claimed the crèche director had become physical with him after a verbal disagreement. He said the injuries to the woman's nose came from when she pulled him from behind and he lost his balance and fell on top of her.

Waters said he had been assaulted by both the crèche director and the deputy manager and that both women had pulled him to the ground and caused him a knee injury.

“I was assaulted, I clearly walked into an ambush,” he said. .

Three staff members at the crèche gave evidence that they had seen Mr Waters become “angry and aggressive” and said they had been very frightened for the safety of the children, the crèche director and themselves.

Judge Patricia Ryan remanded Waters on continuing bail for sentencing in October.

A victim impact statement will be presented on that day.

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