Sunday 15 December 2019

Team manager at LGBT rugby club admits assaulting friend at dinner party

Gavin Fogarty (45) pictured leaving the Bridewell District Court today. Photo: Courts Collins
Gavin Fogarty (45) pictured leaving the Bridewell District Court today. Photo: Courts Collins

Tom Tuite

THE manager of a Dublin LGBT rugby club team has admitted assaulting a friend who was lifted in the air and thrown to the ground during a dinner party.

Gavin Fogarty (45) coaches a team with the Emerald Warriors which aims to be the leading LGBT inclusive rugby club. He pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court today to assaulting Michael Rohan on April 19th in 2014.

Mr Rohan told Judge Miriam Walsh he thought he was going to die when he was grabbed from behind and lifted to shoulder height and then thrown to the floor after he went to a party at a friend's house.

Fogarty, who apologised, was given a chance to avoid a criminal record and told to give €2,500 to charity. He had offered it as compensation to Mr Rohan who refused to accept the money. Judge Walsh adjourned the case until a date in February.

Both men had attended a dinner party hosted by a mutual friend in Castleymoyne, Balgriffin, in north Dublin 13. Garda Domhnall O'Friel said Fogarty, a qualified civil engineer, picked up Mr Rohan and threw him on the ground resulting in him being injured. Fogarty later made a statement outlining his version of events and was co-operative.

Gda O'Friel agreed with defence counsel David Staunton that during the course of the evening alcohol had been consumed. There had been an earlier incident where Fogarty picked up the complainant in a manner described as “a fireman's lift”. At a later stage he picked him up again and Mr Rohan fell to the ground. Gda Friel said Mr Rohan stated he was thrown.

Michael Rohan, pictured leaving the Bridewell District Court. Photo: Courts Collins
Michael Rohan, pictured leaving the Bridewell District Court. Photo: Courts Collins

He agreed with the defence counsel that Fogarty told him he and Mr Rohan had been friends and he regarded it as “horseplay”. The DPP had initially recommended an adult caution but court proceedings had begun by the time Fogarty made a statement.

Pleading for leniency, Mr Staunton asked the judge to note his client is a team manager with the Emerald Warriors, a LGBT inclusive team, in Dublin. They plan to go on a trip to America this year and a conviction could have a severe effect on his ability to travel.

Mr Staunton said his client was profusely apologetic for what happened. He said Fogarty had no prior convictions and had brought €2,500 as an offer of compensation and he could also face civil proceedings.

The court heard he was an engineer who went into the financial sector before going back into construction. However, he has had financial difficulties and is now unemployed. He knows it was a reckless act which is a source of shame and embarrassment, counsel said, adding that his client never intended to cause any injury.

Mr Rohan gave a victim impact statement in court and told the judge that Fogarty “picked me up from behind, arms around my shoulders”. He said he was held “fully horizontal” at the defendant's shoulder-height and he feared he was going to die.

He said he was thrown and hit the floor at “some force” and lay there for 12 to 15 minutes. He said he later walked over to Fogarty and asked why he did that to him and he said it was horseplay and “I was as much at fault as him, I said I was not, I was not a willing participant”. He also claimed he told Fogarty that he knew he had a bad back and he responded “using expletives” and “I was abused significantly”. Mr Rohan said he broke into tears and when he was leaving Fogarty came out to say sorry but he did not think he was sincere.

He went home and broke down front of his young daughter, the court heard.

Fogarty sent him a message the next day through Facebook saying “sorry about last night, I hope your back is all right”.

Mr Rohan said he had to take take two weeks off work, attend physiotherapy and he takes exercises to mitigate the back pain. He also had to change his car and avoids speed ramps.

He has also been unable to carry out maintenance work on his car which had always done before. He said he had motorcycles but has not ridden them since the incident.

He did not agree with the defence that it was done in jest and said “I could have been killed, I felt I was going to die”.

Judge Walsh said she noted Fogarty had never been in trouble before and said she would not record a criminal conviction if he donated €2,500 to the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin which helps homeless people.

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