Monday 26 August 2019

Camogie star Thompson told to pay €6,000 to make assault case 'disappear' - or face jail

Guilty plea: Cork camogie star Ashling Thompson at Cork District Court. Photo: Cork Courts Limited
Guilty plea: Cork camogie star Ashling Thompson at Cork District Court. Photo: Cork Courts Limited

Olivia Kelleher

A star camogie player who pleaded guilty to assaulting two women in a nightclub has been warned she will face jail if she doesn't pay €6,000.

But Ashling Thompson (29) was also told the case would "disappear" with no convictions if she came up with the money.

Thompson, of Shinanagh, Newtownshandrum, Charleville, Co Cork, pleaded guilty earlier this year to assaulting Jennifer Coakley, on February 25, 2018, at Secret Garden in Rearden's, Washington Street in Cork.

Last week she entered a plea of guilty to a charge of assaulting a second woman, Aoife O'Flaherty, on the same night in the club. Cork District Court heard the two assaults occurred within 90 minutes of each other.

Thompson has until September 30 next to furnish the €6,000. She has avoided a criminal conviction in the case. Judge Con O'Leary said if the money is paid the case will disappear.

"If paid it will disappear. No convictions. It disappears into a fog. There is no Probation Act. No strike out. It can only be entered if the money is not paid."

Eddie Burke, the solicitor representing Thompson, said that his client was "intoxicated" on the night of the assaults and that alcohol clearly did not suit her.

The judge heard that the Cork camogie player has lost all but one of her sponsorship contracts arising out of the incident. She was living in rental accommodation, but is now living with her parents in Charleville.

Mr Burke said his client understands that drink is not for her and has curtailed her social life accordingly.

She is studying online and her family are financially supporting her.

He said the fact that the case was on the front page of newspapers led to a "knock-on effect with sponsorship".

Mr Burke said that on the day of the incident Thompson had played a game in Offaly. She hadn't eaten and ended up quite intoxicated in the nightclub.

Judge Con O'Leary was told that neither Aoife O'Flaherty nor Jennifer Coakley had sought significant medical attention for their injuries.

Elbow

The judge ordered Ms Thompson to pay €2,500 to charities Edel House and €1,000 to Cuan Lee, as well as €2,000 to Ms Coakley and €500 to Ms Flaherty.

At the May hearing, Inspector James Hallahan told Cork District Court that at 2.44am on the date in question Ms Coakley approached a man in the nightclub who was talking to Thompson.

Ms Coakley knew the man but she wasn't acquainted with Thompson. Inspector Hallahan said Thompson struck Ms Coakley. Her right elbow connected with Ms Coakley's jaw.

Ms Coakley is employed in Abu Dhabi where she rides horses for the royal family. She said she was inconvenienced in having to return to Cork for that hearing.

Ms Coakley stated that she was about to head to Singapore for a career break when the assault occurred. She had to delay the trip. She insisted the attack came from nowhere.

She told Judge O'Leary that she was diagnosed with a hairline fracture. However, she failed to follow up on her medical treatment and no medical report was furnished to the courts.

Ms Thompson has won three All-Ireland medals with Cork and three senior club championships with Milford. She received an All Star award in 2015 and 2017 and was on All-Ireland-winning teams in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

She was captain of the Cork camogie team which won the O'Duffy Cup in 2015.

Irish Independent

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