Tuesday 16 July 2019

Cork camogie star Ashling Thompson ordered to pay €6,000 after pleading guilty to assaulting two women

Court: Cork GAA player Ashling Thompson outside Cork District Court. Photo: Cork Courts Limited
Court: Cork GAA player Ashling Thompson outside Cork District Court. Photo: Cork Courts Limited

Olivia Kelleher

A three-time All Ireland winning camogie player who pleaded guilty to assaulting two women in a nightclub in Cork city last year has been warned she will face jail if she doesn’t pay €6000 to cover charitable donations and the expenses of the victims in the case.

Ashling Thompson (29) of Shinanagh, Newtownshandrum, Charleville, Co Cork pleaded guilty earlier this year to assaulting Jennifer Coakley, on February 25th, 2018 at Secret Garden in Rearden's, Washington Street in Cork city.

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 that the two assaults occurred within 90 minutes of each other.

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

Judge Con O'Leary 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 in Cork city but is now residing with her parents in Charleville.

Mr Burke said that his client enjoyed a good career. However now she may now only be remembered for this incident. He said his client regrets her actions.

However, he stated that the second assault would not have occurred if Ms Thompson was asked to leave the nightclub after the first incident.

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.

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

"She has no sponsorship left apart from one. The publicity has had a detrimental effect."

Mr Burke said on the day of the incident Ashling 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 or Jennifer Coakley had sought significant medical attention for their injuries.

Ms O'Flaherty told gardai that she suffered pain in her neck after Thompson pinched her in the back of the head.

Judge O'Leary said that he was unsure of what had actually transpired between Ms O'Flaherty and Thompson because of a disparity between her statement to gardai and the victim impact statement she furnished by writing to the courts.

Ordering Ms Thompson to pay €2500 to charities  Edel House and €1000 to Cuan Lee as well as €2000 to Coakley and €500 to Flaherty the Judge said he couldn’t understand the media fascination and large turnout for the case.

Judge O'Leary earlier heard evidence at the last hearing in May from Ms Coakley who travelled back from Abu Dhabi where she works for the Royal Family to give a victim impact statement.

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 Ashling Thompson. Ms Coakley knew the man but she wasn't acquainted with the GAA player.

Inspector Hallahan said Ms Thompson struck Jennifer Coakley. Her right elbow connected with Ms Coakley's jaw causing it damage.

Ms Coakley took the stand to detail how the assault has impacted on her life. Judge Con O'Leary heard that Ms Coakley is employed in Abu Dhabi where she rides horses for the royal family. She said she was inconvenienced in having to return back to Cork for the hearing.

Jennifer 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.

"I didn't know the person. (Ms Thompson). It wasn't pleasant. I was minding my own business on my last night in Cork."

Ms Coakley, who is in her twenties, 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.

She said that it was her own fault that she didn't continue with her treatment or obtain a report.

"I wanted to put it all behind me. I wanted a new start and was moving away."

Ms Coakley said she still has problems with her jaw.

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.

The camogie player had a serious car crash when she was nineteen which left her with significant injuries.

She was forced to stop playing for a period arising out of her injuries.

Ashling is a high profile mental health campaigner and has also been nominated for style awards in Irish magazines.

Ms Thompson was profiled in a Laochra Gael episode. The series profiles some of the greatest names in Gaelic games.

Speaking after the court Eddie Burke said his client was keen to put the matter behind her and to get on with her life.

Ms Thompson has until September 30th next to furnish the €6000. She has avoided a criminal conviction in the case.

Judge O’Leary said if the money is paid the case will disappear.

“If paid it will disappear. No convictions. It disappears in to a fog. There is no probation act. No strike out. It can only re entered if the money is not paid.”

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News