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Fine Gael Senator on assault charges put arm around wife of alleged victim before row, court hears

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Senator John McGahon with his posters for the 2020 General Election

Senator John McGahon with his posters for the 2020 General Election

Senator John McGahon with his posters for the 2020 General Election

A Fine Gael Senator on trial for assault causing harm outside a Louth pub put his arm around a man’s wife and said “you’re coming with me” prior to the fight, a court has heard.

Senator John McGahon (31), of Faughart Gardens, St Mary’s Road, Dundalk, Co Louth, is accused of attacking Breen White, from Castleblaney in Co Monaghan, on Park Street in Dundalk in the early hours of June 16, 2018.

He has pleaded not guilty and is being tried before a jury of eight women and four men overseen by judge Dara Hayes at Dundalk Circuit Court.

In evidence today the court was told that Mr White and his wife Linda had been in the Rum Bar in Dundalk celebrating the win that day at Fairyhouse of one of Mr White’s horses called Total Demolition.

The prize money was about €6,000 and Mr White said that, as they were leaving the late bar at around 3am the following morning, Mr McGahon, who had been in the pub as well and was leaving at the same time, had put his arm around his wife Linda and said: “You’re coming with me.”

“I said, ‘Leave her alone’ and he said, ‘What’s it to you’. I told him that was my wife,” said Mr White.

He said that outside the pub Mr McGahon then approached him and asked: “Have you a problem with me?” He had answered he had no problem with him.

He said Mr McGahon was asking him who he was, and said: “Do you know who I am?”

Mr White said Mr McGahon then started addressing his wife, and, when he asked him to leave her alone, Mr McGahon said: “Can she not speak for herself? Is she stupid?”

Mr White said there was then a scuffle and he ended up on the ground. “I remember being face down getting hit and hearing shouting. I was dazed and getting knocks and bangs around the head. I put my hands to my face and thought there was water running down my face. It was blood,” he added.

Mr White received medical treatment and some days later made a statement to gardaí.

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The court was also told that Mr White is taking a civil action against Mr McGahon.

In cross-examination, barrister for Mr McGahon, Hugh Hartnett, suggested to Mr White it was him that first pushed Mr McGahon backwards into the street.

Mr White said he did not recall that and the scuffle had happened “in the heat of the moment”.

Mr Hartnett said a statement Mr White had given to his own solicitor in preparation for the civil case – in which he claimed that Mr McGahon had “suddenly and without warning” assaulted him –  would not be reflected in CCTV evidence.

Mr Hartnett then questioned Mr White on his honesty and asked him on a scale of one to 10 how honest he was.

“Ten,” he replied.

Mr Hartnett asked Mr White whether he had ever had any dealings with the Criminal Assets Bureau in the past. Mr White confirmed he had reached a settlement with CAB for a sum of €537,000 in 2017.

“It was a consent order which I agreed to. I have no previous convictions. That didn’t give John McGahon licence to viciously assault me,” he said.

“That (CAB case) has nothing to do with this case. I don’t know why this line of questioning is being put to me,” he added.

It is the prosecution case that words were exchanged between both parties as they left the pub and that the row escalated outside the premises to the point of physical confrontation initiated by Mr McGahon in which he used excessive force.

CCTV evidence from four cameras was shown to the jury and relayed the scuffle outside the pub.

At one point, a man can be seen on the pavement. The jury were told by Garda Ashley McEvoy of Dundalk garda station that the man on the ground was Mr White and the man on top of him was Mr McGahon.

Photographs of Mr White’s injuries, taken on June 21 while he made a statement to gardaí, were also given to the jury.

Cross-examination of Mr White will continue tomorrow.

The trial is expected to take up to two more days.

Mr McGahon was previously a Fine Gael councillor and contested the 2020 general election but was not elected.

He was elected to the Seanad the same year where he was appointed as the Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on climate, communications, energy and natural resources.


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