Wednesday 25 April 2018

TV fitness coach given new trial date after complaint regarding articles 'sorted out'

Francis Usanga arrives at the Dublin District Court. Pic Collins Courts.
Francis Usanga arrives at the Dublin District Court. Pic Collins Courts.

Andrew Phelan

A TV fitness instructor accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend has been given a new trial date after a complaint made about articles published in advance of the hearing was “sorted out.”

Former Today Show fitness expert Francis Usanga’s trial had been delayed after his defence brought the publications to the attention of a judge.

However, Dublin District Court heard today that that prosecution and the defence had spoken and the non-jury trial could proceed.

Judge Gerard Jones adjourned the case to October 24.

Mr Usanga (29), of Lanesboro, Finglas denies assault causing harm to model Emma Murphy.

The attack allegedly took place at FX Fitness gym in Santry on July 3, 2015.

Emma Murphy and Francis Usanga
Emma Murphy and Francis Usanga

A state solicitor said the case had been listed for hearing today but this was vacated on Friday by Garda Inspector Michael Mulligan.

The alleged victim Emma Murphy and her solicitor John Hennessy were present, as were Sunday World journalist Eugene Masterson and solicitor Kieran Kelly.

The state solicitor said the case had been initially set for hearing on November 22 last year but an issue had been brought to court’s attention - two publications in the Sunday World on November 20 and the November issue of VIP magazine.

This had given rise to defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe seeking the hearing to be vacated, the state solicitor said.

He said on the last date, Judge Hugh O’Donnell had asked for the Sunday World journalist to be in court.

Mr Hanahoe said he had spoken to the newspaper's legal representative, Mr Kelly, and “we have sorted matters out”. Mr Hanahoe did not require the journalist to be present.

The court heard the case would take two to three hours to hear and there would be video evidence.

Judge Jones reserved a half day for the hearing.

The accused, wearing a navy top, black trousers and navy and white runners, did not address the court.

Previously, Insp Mulligan said it will be alleged that an altercation occurred following a dispute between both parties, and “there had been series of rows.”

Jurisdiction was accepted, meaning the case will remain in the district court which, on conviction, can impose a sentence of up to 12 months as well as fine.

Mr Usanga previously appeared in TV3's Red Rock series and has also appeared as a fitness trainer on RTÉ's The Today Show presented by Daithi O Sé and Maura Derrane.

At a previous hearing, free legal aid was granted after a statement of Mr Usanga's means was seen by the court, which was also told he is unemployed.

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