Saturday 25 November 2017

Solicitor faces new charge of assaulting his colleague

Barry Duggan

A WELL-KNOWN solicitor has returned to court to face a second charge of assaulting his colleague.

John Devane (49), of Quinlan Street, Limerick, had pleaded not guilty to assaulting John Herbert at Limerick District Court on June 9, 2011.

However, after hearing evidence at Limerick District Court yesterday, Judge Patrick Clyne said Mr Devane aimed a head-butt at John Herbert and grabbed his throat during the assault.

Judge Clyne said the State had proven that Mr Devane -- a solicitor of 15 years -- had assaulted Mr Herbert.

However, instead of recording a criminal conviction, the judge said he would dismiss the case on its merits if the Limerick-based criminal solicitor paid €1,000 to St Vincent de Paul by October 18.

Last week, in a separate case, Mr Devane was found not guilty of assaulting Mr Herbert on May 25, 2011.

Mr Herbert told the judge yesterday that on June 9, 2011, he was working in the court when he was approached by Mr Devane who asked him to "forget about what happened" in the previous incident.

Mr Herbert said he dismissed Mr Devane's suggestions, to which the solicitor replied: "I will have you done. I will see to it."

Mr Herbert said the threats were issued "in deliberately hushed tones" so that nobody else would hear.

Judge Clyne heard that the two solicitors went outside the court, where Mr Herbert -- a former universities heavyweight boxing champion -- deliberately stood with his hands in his pockets so as not to look aggressive as Mr Devane continued to threaten him.

Mr Herbert said Mr Devane tried to headbutt at him, but did not connect.

The lawyer said Mr Devane grabbed him by the throat, before he freed himself and walked away.

When asked did he swipe Mr Devane's hand away in a boxing style fashion, Mr Herbert rejected it and replied that "another feature of boxing is discipline".

Mr Devane told gardai on duty at the time that he had been assaulted by Mr Herbert.

Witness Paul O'Dwyer told the court he found it comical when Mr Devane claimed he was assaulted.

Mr O'Dwyer said Mr Devane was "quite irate" towards Mr Herbert before he attacked him with his head.

He said the headbutt was not forcible and he had seen bigger taps between four-year-olds.

Mr O'Dwyer said that Mr Devane put his hand on Mr Herbert's throat before Mr Herbert brushed it off.

Mr Devane said his relationship with Mr Herbert was "not at all good".

But he rejected claims he lost control.

"I wouldn't fight my way out of a paper bag," he said.

Mr Herbert made a complaint to gardai hours after the incident.

Judge Clyne said the evidence of Mr Herbert and Mr O'Dwyer was "entirely consistent" as regards the two elements of the assault -- the headbutt and throat grabbing.

"I am happy that what was before the court was proven to my satisfaction," the judge said.

He said the court has the power not to proceed to conviction and said it could be settled by way of a charitable donation by Mr Devane and adjourned the matter to October 18.

Irish Independent

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