Thursday 22 August 2019

GAA player pleads guilty to assaulting woman without warning in nightclub

Camogie star Thompson denies attacking second woman on night out

Facing sentence: Ashling Thompson outside court, where she pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts
Facing sentence: Ashling Thompson outside court, where she pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts

Ralph Riegel

GAA star Ashling Thompson (28) has pleaded guilty to assaulting a young woman who works in the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi royal family, after an incident in a nightclub which resulted in the woman suffering a hairline fracture to her jaw.

Thompson - who has won multiple All Ireland camogie titles with Cork - pleaded guilty to assaulting Jennifer Coakley in Rearden's nightclub in Washington Street, Cork, on February 25 last year.

The charge was brought contrary to Section 2 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act.

Thompson has denied a second assault charge involving another woman, Aoife O'Flaherty, on February 25 last year at Secret Garden at Rearden's in Cork.

Judge Con O'Leary at Cork District Court was told that Thompson was pleading guilty to the charge of assaulting Ms Coakley.

Inspector James Hallahan told the court that Ms Coakley and Thompson were both in Rearden's on the evening in question and were socialising separately. The two women were not known to each other.

Ms Coakley was walking through the nightclub at 2.44am and spotted a person she knew.

She stopped to say "hello" to the individual who was in the company of the camogie star. Without warning, Thompson struck out at the young woman.

Her elbow made contact with Ms Coakley's face and jaw. It was later determined that Ms Coakley had sustained a hairline fracture to her jaw.

"She did not know Ms Thompson, but she knew the other individual," said Insp Hallahan.

Judge O'Leary was told that Ms Coakley worked in Abu Dhabi for the royal family where she worked with their stable of horses.

The incident occurred on her last night in Cork as she prepared to move abroad for her work.

"I knew the person (she stopped to talk to). I was minding my own business on my last night in Cork. It (the incident) was not pleasant," she told the court.

Judge O'Leary queried why he did not have a detailed medical report in relation to the matter.

Ms Coakley said she had left Cork for her overseas work assignment as soon as she was physically able.

"I was trying to put it behind me," she said. "I wanted a new start. I was moving away."

The court heard that, because of her injury, she had to significantly delay her work trip to the Middle East and a related work trip to Singapore.

The young woman still experiences difficulty with her jaw.

Thompson's solicitor, Eddie Burke, applied for an adjournment of the matter in relation to the second assault charge involving Ms O'Flaherty.

Judge O'Leary adjourned the case until June 18, when it will be listed for hearing.

The judge said he would deal with sentencing of Thompson in relation to the assault on Ms Coakley on the same date.

Mr Burke told the court that Thompson had been subject to "the glaring eyes of the media" in relation to the charge. "It is very unfortunate that she has had to suffer that," he said.

Thompson, of Shinanagh, Newtownshandrum, Charleville, Co Cork, did not address the court beyond confirming her guilty plea to the assault charge against Ms Coakley.

She has won a total of three All Ireland camogie titles and two All Star awards. She has worked to develop a modelling career over recent years.

Irish Independent

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