Wednesday 19 June 2019

Garda convicted of assaulting two young women in unprovoked attack claims he had to punch one in self defence, court hears

Garda Brian Hanrahan Picture: Press 22
Garda Brian Hanrahan Picture: Press 22

Ralph Riegel

A GARDA challenging convictions for assault causing harm to two young women in a row over a €15 fee for a lift home has insisted he needed to punch one of the women to defend himself.

Garda Brian Hanrahan (35) is challenging before Tipperary Circuit Appeals Court two convictions for assault causing harm for which he received a six month suspended prison sentence.

Garda Hanrahan, who survived a 2015 holiday shooting in the US, received the suspended sentence from Judge Elizabeth MacGrath at Nenagh District Court last year.

The father of two has denied punching two young women, Emer Kelly and Aisling King, in an unprovoked attack near an isolated Tipperary cemetery last year.

He had promised to pay them for a spin to his home outside Nenagh - but the young women said they were forced to ask him to get out of the car when he became aggressive and abusive about Nenagh and its residents.

Both Ms Kelly and Ms King sobbed as they recalled the events of March 5/6 2016 before Judge Tom Teehan.

The two women were in a car with their friend, Ellen Nyhill, when they said they were approached by Brian Hanrahan in Nenagh town centre in the early hours of the morning.

They did not know him.

He had been out socialising but couldn't get a taxi and wanted a lift home because it was cold and wet.

The off duty Garda said he offered to pay €20 for a spin home from the young women.

Garda Brian Hanrahan outside Nenagh District Court yesterday Photo: Liam Burke
Garda Brian Hanrahan outside Nenagh District Court yesterday Photo: Liam Burke

Ms King, who had only just purchased the car, declined but Garda Hanrahan approached them twice more before, at the suggestion of Ms Kelly, they agreed to give him a spin.

When the women asked how his night was, Ms Kelly said Mr Hanrahan replied that Nenagh was "full of scumbags."

Ms Kelly said he described the town as "a kip" and "a dump" while speaking aggressively. She also said he promised that he would fight anyone.

"He said he would taken on anyone in the town," Ms Nyhill said.

It was claimed he suddenly called one of their boyfriends "overweight."

Ms King stopped the car and demanded that he get out.

Mr Hanrahan did so but did not leave the cash for the lift as promised.

Ms Kelly then stepped out of the car to ask for the promised €15 and not €20 as claimed by the Garda.

"It was my fault she (Ms King) took him out in the car. I stood out of the car and asked him for the €15. I didn't want her to leave without it." Ms Kelly said.

Ms King and Ms Nyhill said the Garda suddenly punched Ms Kelly and started kicking her in the face when she fell to the ground.

Ms Kelly said she found herself lying on the ground and covering her face and head with her hands to protect herself.

Ms King said she saw clumps of her friend's hair on the ground with blood pouring from her mouth.

Ms Kelly was crying in the mistaken belief that one of her teeth had been knocked out.

Her two friends were appalled as they insisted she was punched and kicked between six and eight times.

"I shouted: 'Stop, please, stop'. But he (then) punched me twice," Ms King said.

"Emer was on the ground and she was pumping blood - I locked myself in the car and I was trying to ring 999. Then I saw the flashing blue lights and the guards arrived."

Ms King and Ms Kelly rejected defence submissions that Mr Hanrahan acted entirely in self defence.

Both denied having either threatened or attacked him near the isolated Lisbunny cemetery.

They also denied his claim that they had suddenly demanded €50 from him.

"He decided that he needed to hit her (Ms Kelly). He hit her once in the face and he regrets it. But that is the situation he found himself in," defence counsel Aidan Doyle SC said.

Mr Doyle said his client never struck Ms King - but merely pushed her away from him by the shoulders to end the confrontation.

The Garda has argued he felt threatened that night and immediately rang Nenagh Garda Station after the incident.

Mr Hanrahan insisted both young women confronted him and demanded €50 for the spin.

He also claimed that their vehicle was driven slowly after him in a very threatening manner after he had agreed to get out.

However, the young women said the incident only ended when Mr Hanrahan fled after the lights of a passing car, driven by security man Eddie Ryan, came over a nearby hill.

Garda Hanrahan, who was off duty on March 5/6 2016, insisted he only acted in self-defence after he claimed Ms Kelly “launched herself” at him in a row over the lift fee.

Michelle O'Connell, for the State, said Gardaí became aware of an incident in Nenagh at around 4am on March 6 2016.

Gardaí attended the scene near Lisbunny cemetery. Mr Hanrahan emerged from the graveyard and presented himself to officers.

The three young women were found by their car in a very distressed condition.

Ms Kelly subsequently required €510 worth of dental repair treatment.

“He kicked or punched me about six or eight times I couldn't touch my mouth it was so sore,” she said.

Ms Kelly, who is 5 ft in height, rejected defence claims that she had ever attacked Mr Hanrahan who is 6ft tall.

Ms King insisted she only jumped out of the car when she realised something was happening to her friend, Ms Kelly.

“He had pulled her hair. Then she (Emer) was on the ground. He was hitting her. It seemed to go on forever,” Ms King wept.

“I said stop, stop, please stop. Please. But he hit me twice in the face. There was blood all over Emer’s face.”

Ms King was uninjured except for a bruise to her face.

Ms Nyhill rang the gardaí from inside the car.

Mr Hanrahan of Newcastlewest Garda Station, Co Limerick and Ballintotty, Nenagh, Co Tipperary is appealing two convictions for assault contrary to Section 3 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act.

The garda made headlines in 2015 when he was shot while on holidays in New Orleans in the US.

He had been withdrawing cash from an ATM when an armed robber attacked and shot him.

The appeal hearing concludes tomorrow.

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