Saturday 21 July 2018

TV fitness expert who punched girlfriend in gym objects to her victim impact statement

  • Francis Usanga (31) in court today for sentencing for assault on his ex partner, model Emma Murphy
  • Solicitor raised objections to the victim impact statement
  • Judge Smyth: Victim impact statement 'not carte blanche'
Emma Murphy leaves the Dublin District Court after her ex-boyfriend Francis Usanga was found guilty of assaulting her
Emma Murphy leaves the Dublin District Court after her ex-boyfriend Francis Usanga was found guilty of assaulting her
Emma Murphy outside Dublin District Court . Photo: Collins Courts
Francis Usanga outside Dublin District Court . Photo: Collins Courts

Andrew Phelan

A TV fitness expert who punched the mother of his children in the face has now objected to her victim impact statement, which his lawyer described as “outlandish" and "untrue."

Francis Usanga (31) was in court today for sentencing for the assault on his ex partner, model Emma Murphy when his solicitor raised objections to the statement she handed up.

Judge Bryan Smyth agreed to adjourn the case for two weeks after the defence argued the document, which was not read out to the court, was “prejudicial” to Usanga.

Last month, the former RTE Today Show fitness guru was found guilty of assault causing harm to Ms Murphy outside his gym, FX Fitness in Santry on July 3, 2015,

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

Usanga, of Lanesboro, Finglas had pleaded not guilty, claiming he only pushed her with an open hand “in self defence.”

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.

Model and mother-of-two Emma Murphy. Pic Collins Courts.
Model and mother-of-two Emma Murphy. Pic Collins Courts.

The case was due to be finalised today after Ms Murphy opted to submit her victim impact statement in writing.

However, defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe said he had seen it and did not think the judge should read it. He said its contents were “absolutely irrevelant” and indicated matters that were “utterly prejudicial and untrue.”

Judge Smyth looked at the statement and said it seemed to refer to other issues.

He said there had to be adherence to the guidelines of the victims’ directive and he did not think the statement fully complied with it.

“What the court is concerned with is what is before the court and nothing else,” Judge Smyth said. “The victim impact statement can’t be used to bring in other matters.”

A State solicitor accepted Ms Murphy “may have strayed slightly” in her statement.

Mr Hanahoe said although the judge had not read the statement thoroughly, it had been read sufficiently for it to be prejudicial.

Judge Smyth said he was not accepting the written statement. He told Mr Hanahoe he had “hardly read any of it” but had “looked at some of it.” He said he was not happy with it but was going to disregard it.

The State solicitor said Ms Murphy could give oral evidence instead but Mr Hanahoe said he did not think that should be done today and he wanted to look at his own position. It was a matter of whether the court had been prejudiced by the statement and if it could proceed, he said.

“There are matters in (the statement) that would alter the courts view, not just of its finding but of the nature of the case,” he said.

The State solicitor said this was “uncharted territory” and also asked the judge to adjourn the case.

Judge Smyth said a victim impact statement was “not carte blanche to go into every aspect.”

The State solicitor said the court was entitled to disregard the statement and the victim could be asked to make a more specific one.

Usanga, wearing a green jumper, blue jeans and red and white runners, did not address the court.

During last month’s hearing, Ms Murphy said she went to Usanga’s 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 after a conversation, she told him “you cheated on me again” and threw it in his direction, she said.

“He punched me in the face,” she told the court, saying his fist hit her left eye.

In cross examination, it was put to her that she “broke into (Usanga’s) media Facebook” and set out to his 10,000 followers that he had assaulted her.

“I shared a video,” Ms Murphy said. “It was my way of getting out of an abusive relationship."

Outside the gym, Usanga said, “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. Usanga had no previous convictions.

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