Thursday 12 December 2019

Dublin star must spend 80 hours teaching kids GAA

Diarmuid Connolly in unprovoked pub attack

Dublin star Diarmuid Connolly. Inset: Victim Anthony Kelly
Dublin star Diarmuid Connolly. Inset: Victim Anthony Kelly

A JUDGE has ordered Dublin football star Diarmuid Connolly to spend 80 hours teaching GAA to kids following an unprovoked attack on a man in a pub.

Connolly (26) had pleaded guilty earlier to assault causing harm to Anthony Kelly – who suffered a fractured eye-socket – at McGowan's public house in Phibsboro, in Dublin, in the early hours of August 6, 2012.

An unreserved apology, which was accepted by Mr Kelly, had been issued by Connolly's lawyer during a hearing last year at Dublin District Court.

Mr Kelly had refused to accept compensation from him so the footballer gave €5,000 to Barnardos children's charity and the Rape Crisis Centre instead. He had also been ordered to complete an anger-management course and a probation report was sought by Judge Patrick Clyne who has described the attack as unprovoked.

The judge has also pointed out that Connolly had donated to charities sums of money which were considerably greater than the maximum fine the district court could impose.

Today, the case resumed and Judge Clyne read the report as well as documentation in relation to the anger-management course.

Judge Clyne said he wanted Connolly to do “80 hours' voluntary service at GAA, dealing with children, over the summer months, teaching them, coaching them”.

Defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe said his client, who did not address the court today “is happy to do it, proud to do it and willing to do it”.

The case was adjourned until September but the judge who said he wanted to “draw a line under it” added that the matter can be re-entered before then if the voluntary work is completed before the next court date.

Earlier, the All-Ireland winning forward's lawyer had told the court that Connolly “apologises unreservedly to Mr Kelly”.

Connolly had also shaken hands with the victim who had accepted his apology at an earlier stage in the case.

The attack happened less than two days after Dublin defeated Laois in a quarter-final of the 2012 All Ireland Senior Football Championship

Connolly, who also plays for north Dublin club St Vincent's, has no prior criminal convictions, and his offence carries a possible sentence of up to one year.

In an outline of the prosecution's evidence given earlier, the court had been told that the attack happened at 3.40 a.m. in McGowan's pub.

“It is alleged that the injured party was socialising with a friend, it would be alleged that the accused assaulted him in an unprovoked attack,” Judge Clyne has heard.

Connolly, who has an address at Collins Park, Beaumont, north Dublin, “punched him in the face”. Mr Kelly, who is in his thirties, was knocked down and Connolly then “continued to punch him on the ground”.

Mr Kelly suffered a fractured eye socket during the attack, but he has recovered, the district court has heard.

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