Thursday 21 November 2019

Man allegedly assaulted by fellow soldier had memory issues on morning of incident, military court told

Irish Defence Forces Photo: Frank McGrath
Irish Defence Forces Photo: Frank McGrath

Liz Farsaci

A member of the Defence Forces who was allegedly assaulted by a fellow soldier was “disorientated” and had memory issues the morning of the incident, a military court heard today.

Sgt Martin Dougan is accused of assaulting Corporal Niall McShane on March 9 2014. The alleged incident took place while both men were serving with the Irish Defence Forces in Lebanon.

It is also alleged that Sgt Dougan was under the influence of an intoxicant on the day in question, the court martial sitting, at the Military Justice Centre in McKee Barracks, Dublin 7, heard.

Sgt Dougan, represented by Gerard Humphreys, BL, and Patricia McKenna, BL, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The alleged incident took place while Cpl McShane and four other colleagues were on an overnight recreational visit to the city of Naqoura, in southern Lebanon.

Cpl Mairead Berrill, told the military court today that herself, Cpl McShane and three other colleagues went to a bar for members of the Defence Forces on the evening of March 8 2014. There they met Sgt Dougan and three or four other members of the Defence Forces.

She said they all chatted and enjoyed themselves, each consuming about five drinks. She and two of her colleagues left the bar at about midnight, while Cpl McShane and another colleague remained in the bar, as did Sgt Dougan.

Cpl McShane said during his evidence on Monday that later in the evening, Sgt Dougan challenged him to an arm wrestling contest outside the bar, which Cpl McShane won.

Cpl McShane said that as he walked back into the pub, he saw Sgt Dougan in front of him.

“I was struck in the left eye – and that’s the last memory I have of that night,” Cpl McShane said. “The next memory I have is in the ambulance.”

Commandant Syed Shah, a senior medical officer stationed in Lebanon, said today he examined Cpl McShane on March 12 2014, after he had returned from hospital in Beirut.

Commandant Shah said he met with Cpl McShane four times “primarily in relationship to a wound on the back of his head that needed to be looked at and monitored”.

Mr Humphreys said medical notes from the hospital in Beirut read that when Cpl McShane presented to them with a head trauma on the morning of 9 March 2014, he was “disorientated”. “He does not remember how was the trauma,” the medical notes read.

The military court heard Monday that Cpl McShane was found on the morning of 9 March 2014 by a civilian. But Mr Humphreys argued today that the court had heard no factual evidence about this.

“There has been no evidence in respect of how he was found,” Mr Humphreys said. “There has been no evidence in respect of where he was found.”

The case continues today when Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis is expected to give evidence in relation to Cpl McShane’s injuries.

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