High ranking boxing official avoids jail over head-butt
A high ranking boxing official has avoided jail for head-butting a man after an amateur exhibition bout.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring had previously told Ciaran O’Neill (37) that she was ‘most likely’ going to jail him after hearing he has 5 previous convictions including two for assault.
However today she took into account his guilty plea and €1,500 compensation he had for the victim and imposed a suspended three year term.
The judge warned O’Neill that he will serve “every day of those three years” if he reoffends.
She told the man that had “disgraced himself, his family and the general community by displaying uncontrollable violence” in front of an international contingent of boxers.
O’Neill who is involved at a “very high level” in the Irish Amateur Boxing Association assaulted his former best friend outside the pub which hosted the series of fights between Welsh and Irish boxers.
The former boxer, who is also the head coach at Balbriggan’s Bracken Boxing Club, was one of the main organisers of the event. His defence counsel said he was held in very high regard in the boxing community and that people were “queuing up” to give character references.
Several testimonials were handed in, including one from Olympic gold medal winning boxer Michael Carruth and another stating that O’Neill’s actions were “out of character.”
O’Neill has five previous convictions including two for assault, one for intimidating a witness and one for making threats.
Judge Ring commented that in light of his previous convictions, the attack did not seem very “out of character.” She said that he had been treated leniently by the other courts and that the alternatives have not worked.
O’Neill of Chieftain’s Drive, Balbriggan pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Derek Gildea at the Milestone Bar in Balbriggan on January 29, 2010.
Garda Ciara Mannion told prosecuting counsel James Dwyer BL that Mr Gildea was attending the exhibition match upstairs in the pub when O’Neill approached him and told him he wasn’t welcome, that he was barred and that he should “fuck off”.
Mr Gildea responded that he had a right to be there and had paid in. The door staff stepped in and said Mr Gildea was entitled to stay.
There were several other exchanges between them before the end of the night when Mr Gildea went outside. A group of people including O’Neill were about to go to another pub and O’Neill told Mr Gildea that he wasn’t welcome to join them.
He then approached the victim and headbutted him, leaving him with a black eye and a broken plate in his dentures. There was a further scuffle during which the victim was punched.
O’Neill was arrested and said in interview that he used to be friends with Mr Gildea but would not say what caused their falling out.
Defence counsel John Byrne BL said the pair used to be best friends and would spar together in the boxing club before Mr Gildea quit.
Counsel said O’Neill refereed boxing at a national and international level and was also involved in helping troubled youths and members of the travelling community through the sport.
He added that he had €1500 as compensation and that the victim is prepared to accept this