Golfers face €80k legal bill as case thrown out
LOO FIGHT: Judge could not decide who was telling truth
BLAME for the bloody battle of the loo in Lucan Golf Club was unresolved yesterday as a judge threw out €38,000 damages claims for assault by one club member against another.
Now golfers Alan Holmes and Martin Curtis have been left to share the estimated €80,000 legal costs associated with an incident Judge Joseph Mathews described as like a scene from The Sopranos.
Holmes, of Rathdown Drive, Terenure, Dublin, and Curtis, of Brooklodge, Curryhills, Prosperous, Co Kildare, have also been left to ponder spending as much again in an appeal to the High Court.
Judge Mathews said no-one else had witnessed the assault in the blood-spattered toilets at the golf club.
It was simply not possible to say whether Holmes or Curtis was giving a true account of the events they described. There was no independent means of verifying who struck the first blow; who, in truth, was the aggressor and who was the victim.
He told barrister Conor Bowman, counsel for Curtis, and Louis McEntagart for Holmes, that their clients had failed to establish the validity of their claims and anyone with an ounce of common sense must regret an incident that had troubled so many for so long.
Judge Mathews outlined the January 2003 incident in which blood had been spattered on the toilet walls, the wash hand basin, the floor, the ceiling and the doors of the loo following the weekly Wednesday fourball.
He said good natured banter between Manchester United fans and supporters of "anyone but United" watching a televised match against Blackburn had led to offence having been taken over a €100 bet offered by Curtis and refused by Holmes.
Curtis had claimed Holmes had referred to him a number of times as "only a f***ing mouth." Holmes in turn accused Curtis of threatening "I'll do you outside." Having met later in the toilets Holmes claimed Curtis had head butted him in the face. Curtis counter-claimed it had been Holmes who attacked him and he had punched him full in the face.
"There is no corroboration at all of either man's allegation of assault, one on the other, save for the word of the participants," Judge Mathews said. "Both suffered injuries but as to who struck the first blow it is simply not possible to say."
Judge Mathews said both Holmes and Curtis knew the real truth but their evidence was entirely at odds with each other. Each swore the other was giving false evidence. Each blamed the other entirely for assault. Both had given very convincing testimony but only one of them could be telling the truth.
He said the court had heard evidence of "overheard conversations" in the loo and a meeting in the Lucan Spa Hotel to agree statements and get stories right but he did not find conspiracy in the case.
Credibility was crucial and it was difficult if not impossible to measure credibility when met by assertion and counter assertion, allegation followed by utter denial. "The dilemma that faces me is the say so of one man against the other . . . it is an unfortunate case dating back seven years involving members of a golf club that has a long and distinguished history," Judge Mathews said.
Neither party had proved their respective claims and he had to dismiss both with no order as to costs.