Sunday 24 June 2018

One punch assault case: Row started after accused 'called man's girlfriend a f**king horse b**ch', court told

Picture: Google Maps
Picture: Google Maps

Greg Harkin

A ROW which led to a man being seriously injured in a single punch incident was started when the alleged victim’s girlfriend believed the accused man had called her a horse, a trial has heard.

Ali Ameer Azeez, (23), from Ard Cairn, Sligo, has pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm and assault causing serious harm to Stephen Finnegan, (25), in Sligo on September 23, 2014.

A jury of nine women and three men watched footage for a second day from a garda CCTV system which was being operated in Sligo around 2.45am on the day of the incident.

In the footage, Mr Finnegan, from Kilnaleck, Co Cavan, appeared to throw a punch at Mr Azeez just before Mr Azeez appeared to throw a punch at Mr Finnegan.

In her evidence to the trial before a jury of nine women and three men at Sligo Circuit Criminal Court, Mr Finnegan’s girlfriend Olga Reilly, (23), said the couple had been running up Castle Street after a night out when the altercation began.

The IT Sligo drama student, from Abbylara, Co Longford, said they had been running because her boyfriend was “very drunk” and she had suggested a “race” to get him to move more quickly.

She told Dara Foynes, counsel for the DPP, that as she passed in front of Iraqi-born Mr Azeez and his Hungarian friend Adam Balogh (25), she heard someone shouting at her.

“I could hear someone shouting really abusive derogatory words,” said Ms Reilly.

Asked what words she heard, she said she heard: “F***ing horse bitch”.

She said she turned around to the two men and asked if they were talking to her and one of the men had then said: “F***ing tramp”.

Ms Reilly said she believed the ‘horse’ comment was made because her high heels were making a clipping sound as she was running along Castle Street, Sligo, where the altercation took place.

However under cross-examination by Kerida Naidoo, SC, for Azeez, Ms Reilly said she couldn’t be totally sure of what she thought had been said to her.

Mr Naidoo said Ms Reilly hadn’t referred to the second comment in her garda statement in which she had said one of the two men had actually responded by denying they were speaking to her.

"They started squaring up to Stephen and got very confrontational," she said.

Asked if she had hit Mr Balogh during the incident, she said: "I may have squatted him....I didn’t hit him on purpose. I am not aware of assaulting (the two me) but I may have."

In his evidence Mr Azeez’s friend, Hungarian student Mr Balogh, said the two men were looking at his mobile phone and discussing bets on horses and other sports.

He said they were talking loudly and were “just having a laugh” when Ms Reilly came in front of them and asked them if they had been talking about her.

Mr Balogh said they told her they hadn’t been talking about her.

“She was just looking for attention,” said Mr Balogh.

“She kept going on and on and asking where we were from and I said she didn’t need to know where we were from.”

He said he tried to calm her down by saying to her: “We are not looking for any drama here….she just kept going and going...asking  where we were from. She became more agitated.”

He said Ms Reilly slapped him in the face and he managed to block a second attempted slap by blocking it with his arm.

The witness said that Mr Finnegan appeared and he was aggressive and agitated because Ms Reilly was agitated.

Mr Finnegan had pushed Mr Azeez, said Mr Balogh, and his friend had pushed him back.

The witness said Mr Finnegan had then swung a punch at Mr Azeez but had missed.

Asked about the punch Mr Azeez had thrown back at Mr Finnegan which had left the Cavan man unconscious on the road, Mr Balogh said: “If he had caught Ali with the same swing, the same thing could have happened to Ali.”

Earlier student ITSligo student Ronan Burke who witnessed some of the incident said he saw Mr Finnegan being punched.

“He fell like a tree falling,” he said.

The trial continues.

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