A MAN facing into a prison sentence in Spain for killing his wife has been convicted of assaulting a young female photographer.
Dermot McArdle (41) was found guilty yesterday of assaulting photojournalist Jenny Matthews near his home outside Dundalk, Co Louth, earlier this year.
Former factory manager McArdle is subject to an arrest warrant in Spain after failing to present himself to begin a two-year sentence for the manslaughter of his wife Kelly-Anne Corcoran.
Ms Corcoran died after plunging from a hotel balcony in Malaga during a row with her husband in 2000.
At Dundalk District Court yesterday, father-of-three McArdle received a three-month suspended sentence for assaulting Ms Matthews on January 9.
The court heard Ms Matthews had been on an assignment to photograph McArdle at his home on Marlbog Road, near Dundalk.
Ms Matthews said she had been behind a hedge in a field across the road from McArdle's house for about an hour and a half and had taken some shots of the house.
While there she had noticed a child playing outside. Later McArdle came into the field and ran towards her, grabbed her and forcibly took her camera, the court heard.
During the struggle she had fallen on her knee and been struck in the face with the camera. She claimed that after taking the camera McArdle had said: "You're not so tough now without your camera."
The court heard McArdle initially denied the incident when contacted by gardai.
In a statement, he later claimed Ms Matthews had given him the camera after he had asked for it and that he had returned it after deleting a number of pictures, including some of his children.
In evidence, McArdle said he had been alerted by one of his sons that someone was taking photographs and had gone to investigate. He said he approached Ms Matthews and asked her to hand over the camera. He said she gave it to him after he asked a second time.
McArdle denied assaulting her and said he had intended to give the camera to gardai after deleting some photographs.
He also said that he and his family were constantly harassed by photographers.
Judge Flann Brennan said he was satisfied beyond doubt that McArdle had approached the photographer and had forcibly taken the camera and in so doing had assaulted her. The judge imposed a three-month sentence, but suspended it on condition McArdle pay €500 to the court and agree to keep the peace for three months.
An international arrest warrant was issued for McArdle's arrest by a Spanish judge last month after he failed to present himself to begin his sentence.
However, it has yet to be served in Ireland because of bureaucratic delays in getting the warrant translated in Spain.
McArdle was convicted of killing his wife following a trial in Malaga in 2008.
He has since launched a series of appeals, but failed to clear his name and had been due to enter prison on September 15.
McArdle is now believed to be attempting to take a case to Spain's Constitutional Court, claiming his rights have been breached. He has also demanded officials strike out the arrest warrants issued against him.
As well as imposing the two-year prison sentence, a Spanish court ordered McArdle to pay his sons Mark and Paul €60,000 each in compensation, and €100,000 to his wife's parents.
The case has left McArdle facing financial ruin.