Tuesday 23 July 2019

GAA star Ashling Thompson pleads guilty to second assault in nightclub

Camogie player Ashling Thompson celebrates anAll Ireland Senior Camogie Championship win. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Camogie player Ashling Thompson celebrates anAll Ireland Senior Camogie Championship win. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Ralph Riegel

GAA star Ashling Thompson (28) has pleaded guilty to a second assault in a Cork nightclub.

The Cork GAA star pleaded guilty before Judge John King in Cork District Court today to assaulting a woman in a city centre nightclub last year.

Her plea came after she admitted assaulting another woman in the same nightclub on the same night before Cork District Court on May 1 last.

Judge John King was told Ms Thompson was pleading guilty to assaulting Aoife O'Flaherty in Rearden's Nightclub on Washington Street in Cork on February 25 2018.

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

No details of the assault were outlined in court today.

On May 1, Ms Thompson pleaded guilty to assaulting Jennifer Coakley in Rearden's Nightclub on the same evening.

Judge King was handed a written victim impact statement on behalf of Ms O'Flaherty.

However, he warned that he was unable to deal with the matter as he did not have detailed notes on the previous court hearing which was dealt with before a different judge.

"These matters should be dealt with together," he said.

"They should not be dealt with in isolation."

Judge King said as he didn't have detailed notes of the previous court hearing he could not deal with the matters.

He adjourned sentencing until June 25 next.

Ms Thompson, who appeared in court wearing green slacks, a grey top and white shoes, did not speak during the hearing.

Her solicitor Eddie Burke pointed out she has no previous convictions and expressed the hope that matters could be finalised.

However, Judge King said he was not able to deal with both matters and had no option but to adjourn the case so sentencing in both could properly be dealt with at the same time.

Last month, Ms Thompson admitted assaulting Jennifer Coakley on February 25 2018 who suffered a hairline fracture to her jaw.

Inspector James Hallahan told the court that Ms Coakley and Ms 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," Inspector Hallahan said.

Ms Coakley was employed 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.

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 after the incident.

Mr Burke told the court that Ms 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.

Ms Thompson of Shinanagh, Newtownshandrum, Charleville, Co Cork, has won a total of three All Ireland camogie titles.

A powerhouse midfielder, she has also been honoured with two All Star awards.

The highlight of her career to date was captaining Cork to O'Duffy Cup success over Galway at Croke Park in 2015.

She has also won four county titles with her club.

The star has worked to develop a modelling career over recent years - appearing in photo shoots in a number of newspapers and magazines.

When she was aged just 19 she was involved in a serious road traffic accident.

The accident left her with serious neck and back problems.

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