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Monday 20 November 2017

Gardai step up probe into violent incident at Mikey Graham's home

Boy band star told us the following day, he knew nothing about the incident outside his gate

Maeve Sheehan and Niamh Horan

MIKEY Graham is expected back from Spain later this week as gardai step up their investigation into how a young student sustained head injuries in a mysterious incident outside the Boyzone singer's home last weekend.

Detectives yesterday interviewed Paul O'Hara, 22, who was discharged from Beaumont Hospital on Friday, about the incident that resulted in him being rushed to hospital with serious head injuries in the early hours of last Saturday morning. They have already interviewed Mr Graham, outside whose home Mr O'Hara was found.

The precise details of what happened are still unclear. But it seems that the incessant buzzing of the Boyzone star's intercom at 1.30am last Saturday provoked a response that has had serious ramifications for both the singer and the graduate student who ended up in hospital.

As the "quiet one" in Boyzone, this was not the kind of controversy that would normally associate with Mikey Graham. He might be a member of Ireland's biggest boy band but at home in the north Dublin countryside, he tends to live a low-key life.

He lives in a modest dormer bungalow on a quiet country road in Courtlough, a townland close to the village of Balrothery. The only visible concession to his pop-star status is a large, black electronic gate overlooked by security cameras.

There is a gun club around the corner, neighbours on either side and a short stroll down the road is the Man O War pub. Mikey Graham is one of the regulars.

There aren't many famous people in Balrothery. The others include Ann Cassin, the RTE news reader, and cricketers John and Paul Mooney.

As the biggest celebrity in the village, Graham no doubt attracts some unwanted attention now and then.

According to garda sources, he has been annoyed in the past by people buzzing his intercom. More recently, he was allegedly assaulted in his local pub. The incident passed and Graham did not make anything of it.

Last Friday night he was, by his own account, at home watching The Late Late Show. His wife Karen and daughters were also in the house.

Down the road at the Man O War, a group of young people were celebrating an 18th birthday party. Amongst them was Paul O'Hara, a popular local youth and a student.

Gardai were later given the following account of what happened.

After the pub had closed, a group of youths went for chips to the nearest take-away, which is a couple of miles away in Balrothery. The road runs past Mikey Graham's house.

At 1.30am, two people started buzzing the intercom and were allegedly shouting into the speaker. A security light came on, indicating that someone was coming.

Some of the group scattered, according to a garda source, but somehow Paul O'Hara either stayed or was left behind.

When his friends returned for him, they found Mr O'Hara lying on the road near Mikey Graham's house, apparently injured. Shocked at his condition, they bundled him into the car and drove him to Beaumont Hospital, according to a garda source. They didn't call an ambulance, nor did they call the gardai.

It was apparent that Mr O'Hara had serious head injuries. He was treated in intensive care while doctors tried to find out what had happened but the injured man was in no condition to speak. It was suspected that he had been struck with a heavy implement, possibly a baseball bat or cricket bat.

Given the fact that the injured man was discovered outside the home of a boy-band star, news of the incident reached the Sunday Independent within hours of it occurring last Saturday.

Curiously, gardai in Balbriggan, the nearest station, had no report of any incident in the area. Nor did the Garda Press Office know anything about it, despite the fact that two gardai had been in Beaumont Hospital, gathering details about it.

Graham claimed to know nothing about the drama that unfolded outside his house when this newspaper contacted him later that Saturday. A reporter called to his home that afternoon to ask him if he knew anything about "an incident" outside his house.

The reporter buzzed the intercom several times. Graham eventually answered over the intercom.

The reporter told him about allegations that he had been involved in an incident the previous night.

Graham immediately replied: "No, not at all." When asked if he was involved in an assault, he replied: "No, no."

Despite his denials the story wouldn't go away. At 6pm that Saturday, Barry Egan, the Sunday Independent's show-business editor, called him and said we had an allegation that he had been involved in an incident. Graham was oblivious.

"Nothing happened," he claimed. He didn't have a "clue" and didn't know where it was coming from.

"That's ridiculous. I was in last night, watching The Late Late Show," he said.

But by then, gardai had already received an account from the injured man's friends, including the fact that he had been found on the road outside Graham's house.

Mr O'Hara was not fit to make a formal statement to gardai. Instead, his mother went to Balbriggan garda station the following afternoon to make a formal statement

Graham's denials kept him out of the headlines that Sunday morning but the garda investigation had swung into action. Early last week, he was interviewed by detectives to give his account of what happened, and was very "co-operative", according to one source.

We don't know what Graham told gardai, although he did admit to an incident at his home, according to the source.

But on Friday, he told the British tabloid the Sun: "I had an intruder at my home in the early hours of Saturday morning. We are still very shaken by it. It was terrifying but we are okay -- police are investigating."

The Sun reported that Graham had been "confronted by a burglar in his home" in what was his "night of terror".

After giving his statement, Graham left for Spain "on business" while his wife and child were believed to be still in Dublin.

But a friend claimed yesterday that the buzzing at the singer's intercom was so persistent that Graham was "in fear of for his family" and was "terrified" that the men were armed.

The friend said Graham was staying at a villa in Nerja, on the Spanish Costa Del Sol. Keith Duffy, his Boyzone band mate, also has a villa in the region. Mr Graham is due to return home this week.

This controversy will be very unwelcome to Graham, who in the past has admitted to suffering from depression and an "emotional overload" that led to a type of breakdown.

He has described himself as a "solitary creature" who likes "quietness, not being bothered by anyone and reading a book".

Meanwhile, Paul O'Hara emerged from hospital, having been told that he was lucky to escape more serious injury.

He was hospitalised for a week in Beaumont and for a while was unable to speak coherently. He was discharged late on Friday afternoon, having suffered an swelling to the brain.

Even though he was allowed home on Friday, doctors still want to keep an eye on him. He may have to go back for check-ups as an outpatient.

His family declined to speak to the Sunday Independent but Mr O'Hara's father, Christopher, told the Sun yesterday: "He is getting better but it will take a while. He is my son and he is no intruder."

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