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Driving tutor cleared of headbutting friend

A driving instructor sentenced to five months for headbutting his younger housemate and former close friend in a bitter argument has had his conviction quashed on appeal.

Jeffrey Yaffe (65) had been accused of striking housemate Donacha Murphy in the face with his head during a row at their apartment in Tallaght, leaving him covered in blood.

He was found guilty and sentenced when the case was originally heard by Judge James McDonnell at Tallaght District Court two years ago.

But yesterday he walked free from Dublin Circuit Court without a conviction after Judge Terence O'Sullivan dismissed the case at an appeal hearing.

Mr Yaffe had denied a charge of assaulting Mr Murphy at their then home at Marlfield Lawns, Kiltipper Way, Tallaght. on April 23, 2007.

The court heard Mr Murphy's ex-partner Brenda Burke was with Mr Yaffe at the apartment when he returned home at 5.30pm from a weekend away.

Mr Murphy arrived with his current partner, Catherina Donaghy.

Mr Murphy said in evidence he had a "stern" discussion with Ms Burke because he felt like "she was going behind his back".

He said after she left, Mr Yaffe confronted him, saying "I want a word with you, young man".


Mr Murphy said he simply told Mr Yaffe to stop interfering in his family life, and that the older man replied that he was only trying to "reach out" to them. He said Mr Yaffe then became very aggressive.

"He took off his coat and hat and challenged me to a fight," Mr Murphy said. "He called me a coward ... he headbutted me in the face. There was a sudden rush of blood, it went all over my face and on the floor."

Mr Yaffe's barrister Eoghan Cole said it was his client's case that Mr Murphy was the aggressor and had first assaulted Ms Burke by pushing her.

Mr Yaffe would say during the confrontation, he was grabbed by the skin of his chest and throat by Mr Murphy who pulled him up, causing him pain and bruising.

The appellant would say Mr Murphy charged at him and he put his own head down in self defence, which is how Mr Murphy sustained his injury.

Before the prosecution had closed its case, Judge O'Sullivan said he was unsure from the evidence what had happened on the day. He said he had to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the account of the alleged assault was correct.

"If there was a jury at this stage, I would be discharging them," he said, allowing the appeal.