Top rugby star admits to nightclub assault charge
INTERNATIONAL rugby player Shane Horgan yesterday admitted assaulting a doorman after he had been refused entry to a nightclub.
Doorman John Fahy suffered a fractured cheekbone when he was struck by Horgan outside The Alley nightclub at Eyre Square in Galway on Halloween night, 1999.
Horgan (22), who plays for Lansdowne and Leinster, was told by Judge Carroll Moran that what he had done had given scandalous example to young people.
A jury had been sworn in at Galway Circuit Court after Horgan initially pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault causing harm, namely a displaced fracture of the left cheekbone, to John Fahy at Ball Alley Lane, Eyre Square Galway.
But following a short adjournment, Horgan was re-arraigned. He once again pleaded not guilty to the charge, but pleaded guilty to assault.
The court heard the plea to the lesser charge was acceptable to the prosecution.
Judge Moran discharged the jury and excused them from jury service for 5 years.
Gda Inspector PJ Durkin said that John Fahy (31) was working as a doorman at The Alley nightclub.
A sign was placed on the door saying that the club was full and entry was for members only.
At about midnight a man wearing a Leinster rugby blazer spoke to Mr Fahy and insisted on getting inside.
A bit of pulling and shoving ensued and ended with the defendant striking the doorman, who suffered a broken cheekbone.
The gardai were contacted and travelled to Flannerys Hotel, where they went to a room where Shane Horgan was located.
Mr Fahy identified him as the person who had assaulted him, before being taken to hospital where he received treatment and he was later referred to a maxillo-facial surgeon in Limerick.
The injury did not require surgical intervention and he had made a full recovery.
Gda Durkin said he was not aware that Shane Horgan had suffered any injury.
He knew Mr Horgan played rugby for Leinster and Ireland and was a rugby player of considerable repute, with no previous convictions.
In reply to Patrick Gageby for the defendant, Gda Durkin agreed that there appeared to have been an amount of drink involved.
Former Irish international and coach, Senator Jim Glennon told the court that he had first come across Shane Horgan as an underage player in Drogheda.
He was an outstanding schoolboy player and had become an international youth before he took him into the Leinster squad.
He was particularly impressed by what he saw both on and off the field.
There was never any trouble with him and he broke into the Leinster team far quicker than anyone could have imagined.
He made his international debut in the spring of this year and had played 8 times for Ireland, scoring 6 tries and was very much part of the future of Irish rugby.
But he had been extremely concerned about this case and it had been the source of stress to both himself and his parents.
A criminal conviction could inhibit his ability to travel abroad for matches. International player Eric Elwood said he had played 35 times for Ireland and he had played against Shane Horgan on numerous occasions.
He was a very difficult but very fair opponent, was very highly regarded in the Irish set-up and had a bright future.
Mr Gageby said that all matters had been settled between his client and Mr Fahy, obviously to some financial detriment to Mr Horgan.
The case was not the serious offence that it might have been and the DPP had agreed that it could be disposed of in the District Court.
Judge Moran said he could not ignore that there appeared to be an increase in violence by prominent sportsmen.
This was a matter which the courts had to take account of, but rugby was no more culpable than any other sport.
"The point is that the accused is a role model for young people...and what he did is to give scandalous example," said Judge Moran.
He noted the Christian attitude of Mr Fahy, while he had been told that there had been a substantial financial settlement.
He accepted it was isolated incident and that the accused was unlikely to reoffend.
He did not wish to put a blight on his career and accepted that a conviction would affect his ability to travel.
Accordingly, he would apply the Probation Act.