Monday 19 February 2018

TV fitness coach punched girlfriend in the face at gym

Francis Usanga outside Dublin District Court . Photo: Collins Courts
Francis Usanga outside Dublin District Court . Photo: Collins Courts

Andrew Phelan

A TV fitness expert has been found guilty of assaulting the mother of his children by punching her in the face when she accused him of cheating on her.

Francis Usanga (31) punched his then-partner, model Emma Murphy, in the eye outside his north Dublin gym while their babies waited in her car.

Dublin District Court heard a Facebook video Ms Murphy shared after the assault went viral and Usanga claimed this was done in an attempt to "destroy" him.

Ms Murphy insisted by posting the video and giving media interviews, she had been speaking out about violence against women and "sharing her story with other women".

Emma Murphy outside Dublin District Court . Photo: Collins Courts
Emma Murphy outside Dublin District Court . Photo: Collins Courts

Usanga claimed he only pushed her with an open hand and did this in self-defence, saying she threw a mobile phone at his head and he felt his "life was in danger". However, Judge Bryan Smyth found him guilty and adjourned sentencing to give Ms Murphy time to prepare a victim impact statement.

Toxic

Usanga, of Lanesboro, Finglas, pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Ms Murphy outside his gym, FX Fitness in Santry, on July 3, 2015.

Ms Murphy said she had been in a relationship with Usanga for three and a half years and it had been "bad, really bad, toxic".

At 4.30pm, she went to his gym with her two children aged six months and 18 months in the car, to talk to him about him "cheating on me again".

Ms Murphy asked Usanga if she could use his phone and he told her to "f*** off" but eventually gave it to her.

After a conversation, she told him "you cheated on me again" and threw the phone in his direction, she said.

"He punched me in the face," she told the court, saying it was with his fist and it hit her left eye. "I was completely and utterly distraught," she said. "It was bad enough that he was cheating and then it came to another black eye."

In cross-examination, she told Usanga's solicitor Michael Hanahoe that anger may have been one of her emotions on the day. "I was extremely emotional," she said. "I was all over the place."

Mr Hanahoe put it to her she did not get a blow to the face.

"This is my black eye," she said, holding a photograph of her injury up to the court.

Mr Hanahoe put it to Ms Murphy that Usanga had been "something of a celebrity" at the time and had a TV programme (on RTÉ's 'Today Show').

He said Ms Murphy "broke into his media Facebook" and "set out what you have told the court here today, that you had been assaulted by him and that was the type of person he was" to his 10,000 followers.

"I shared a video," Ms Murphy said.

"It was my way of getting out of an abusive relationship."

Mr Hanahoe said Ms Murphy had become "something of a celebrity" herself, and gave TV and radio talks and interviews to the newspapers.

Ms Murphy said she had been sharing her story with other women.

Usanga said that outside the gym: "She threw the phone at my head. She was raging, I felt my life was in danger. I used my hand to push her away. It was to protect myself."

He said he pushed her with an open hand and she left.

After she went on his Facebook account, he lost his job.

Mr Hanahoe said the accused's former partner had decided to punish him through social media and he had "suffered immensely" as a result.

Usanga had no previous convictions.

Irish Independent

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