Tuesday 24 April 2018

Arrest ordered after fight in which woman died outside Rotunda Hospital

Conor Gallagher

AN arrest warrant has been issued for a mother of four who assaulted her close friend outside Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital in an incident that led to the victim’s death.

Michelle Brannigan (36) of Hill Street, Dublin 1, had pleaded not (NOT) guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the manslaughter of Tracey O’Brien (31) at Parnell Square West on June 25, 2009. She was acquitted of manslaughter last year but convicted of assault causing harm after the jury ruled her actions had not caused the woman’s death.

In June 2011 Brannigan’s former partner was jailed for three years after he pleaded guilty to Ms O’Brien’s manslaughter. Wesley Ward (33) of Aras Na Cluaine, Clondalkin, told the court he attacked the victim because he thought she was spreading rumours about his new-born child being taken into care.

Brannigan’s case had been adjourned until today to see if she could keep out of trouble. Judge Tony Hunt heard she had not shown up and that there are several other warrants for her arrest from the District Court.

He issued a bench warrant but ordered that “discretion” be used when arresting her as she has several medical issues.

Last year Detective Sergeant Des McTiernan told Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, that a number of bystanders witnessed an assault outside the hospital and a number of gardai attended the scene of what they thought was a public order incident.

Brannigan, who had recently given birth at the hospital, was later arrested.

He said Brannigan had been co-operative and admitted her involvement in the assault.

She said in the lead-up to the attack she had been told that the victim had been spreading false rumours that Brannigan’s child had been taken into care.

Brannigan said she told Ms O’Brien that she didn’t wish to fight her because she knew she was ill, but then began “throwing digs” at her when she realised the deceased had been hitting her “sly digs” with a phone.

Brannigan said she heard Ms O’Brien scream when they fell on the ground and then heard someone say: “You shouldn’t have given her a boot like that.”

During the fight, Ward pulled Ms O’Brien to the ground. He then stamped on her face which led directly to her death.

When arrested he told gardaí: “All I did was kick her in the face, what’s wrong with that?”

The court heard Brannigan had nine previous convictions.

Det Sgt McTiernan told Isobel Kennedy SC, defending, that Brannigan has four children.

Det Sgt McTiernan agreed she was from a good background but got involved in the use of drugs. She later ended up living on the streets and in squats.

In mitigation, Ms Kennedy said she left school at the age of 15 and was in an abusive relationship which ended six weeks before her child was born by caesarean section.

She said Ms O’Brien’s death had caused Brannigan serious trauma and she was extremely remorseful.

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