Saturday 24 August 2019

Man cleared of glass assault on tourist who lost sight in one eye

A man has been acquitted of assaulting a tourist who was partially blinded by flying glass in Co Offaly last year.

Gary Ward (20) of Scurragh, Birr had denied charges of assault causing harm, recklessly causing serious harm and production of an article at Keel's Arch in Birr on August 4, 2013. 

Gary Ward
Gary Ward

At a sitting of Tullamore Circuit Court,  a jury deliberated for almost three hours before finding Mr Ward not guilty on all of the charges.

Canadian resident and Birr native Marie Gauvin(59) was on holidays when she was struck by glass during Birr Vintage Week last summer.

She was an innocent bystander who had sheltered from rain in an archway when glass was thrown during a disturbance. It struck her right eye causing massive damage and leaving her with a "life changing" injury.

Earlier in the day, she had attended the Birr Vintage Week and Arts Festival, where her father Frank Wrafter had acted as Grand Marshall in the annual parade.

Shortly after the incident Mrs Gauvin attended hospital in Tullamore where "they said the damage was horrific and there was nothing they could do for me there," Mrs Gauvin told the trial.

She was transferred to Dublin where her eye was stitched and she was treated for fractures to her eye socket and facial cuts. She still has two stitches in her eye right eye.

"I will never see again, the damage is too horrific to be repaired. My eye keeps receding because of lack of use," she said, adding, "down the road in the future they are talking about a prosthetic eye," Mrs Gauvin told the trial.

Professor Lorraine Cassidy of the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin provided a report on the case. It revealed that "the eye was completely collapsed and not even recognisable as an eye."

Describing the injury as horrendous, Prof Cassidy said that Mrs Gauvin has a mild condition in her left eye. "There is a possibility when she is older that she may lose vision in her left eye making this injury more serious," she explained.  

The prosecution had maintained Mr Ward and Darragh Daly had fought in Keel's Arch on the night in question.  They alleged Mr Ward had thrown a glass at Mr Daly as he walked from the scuffle. The accusation was repeatedly denied by Mr Ward. 

Describing it as a tragic case for Mrs Gauvin, Judge Anthony Hunt gave jurors a six year exemption from jury service. Although there was a "difficult and horrible" background to the case, he thanked the jury for not letting their hearts rule their heads.

Judge Hunt told the court that someone somewhere out there knows the truth about what happened on the night Mrs Gauvin was injured.

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