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I feared I'd die as pal strangled me -- accused soldier

A Captain in the Irish Defence Forces accused of attacking his friend after a night out has told a jury the alleged victim asked him to fight before trying to strangle him.

Captain Kenneth Cooney told the jury that his childhood friend and co-accused Dara Mac Giolla Ri, saved his life that night after Colm Croghan pinned him to a couch and squeezed his throat with his left hand until he started to see dots in his eyes.

"My throat started to constrict and I seriously thought this was it, I was going to die," Cooney told the jury.


He agreed with his defence counsel, Breffni Gordon, that it was then that Mac Giolla Ri "came to your rescue" and began to strike Mr Croghan over the back and the head.

Cooney further agreed with counsel that he did not inflict any of the injuries Mr Croghan received that night.

He suggested to Mr Gordon that the reason Mr Croghan attacked him that night was because he had, "an issue with the difference in rank between us and felt that I had been cutting him off as a friend".

Cooney said earlier in the night, while Mr Croghan had been challenging him to a fight, he had produced a knife on two occasions.

He said Mr Croghan pointed the knife at him but discarded it on a couch a few minutes later.


On the second occasion, Mr Croghan pulled the knife from his pants and smiled at him, saying nothing.

He said Mr Croghan again threw the knife on the couch.

Cooney said he had asked Mr Croghan to leave the house many times but finally told him in a "firm tone" to leave and it was at this point that Mr Croghan just "flipped" and attacked him.

Cooney (37) and Mac Giolla Ri (37) have both pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Mr Croghan (38) at their home in Sarsfield Street, Dublin 7, on October 17, 2009.

Cooney refused to accept a suggestion from Vincent Heneghan, prosecuting, that it was a lie to suggest that Mr Croghan instigated the altercation and he had actually thrown a glass at the alleged victim earlier in the night.

He agreed with counsel that the shirt he had been wearing on the night was blood-stained below the arms.

Cooney refused to accept that the staining on the shirt tied in with Mr Croghan's version of events.

Mr Croghan had claimed the blood got on the shirt when Cooney was holding his head in his abdomen, while Mac Giolla Ri was hitting him on the head with an iron bar.

"That is absolutely not true," Cooney said.


Cooney had earlier told the jury that Mac Giolla Ri had taken him out for a drive in his Land Rover after his initial altercation with Mr Croghan to diffuse the situation and allow Mr Croghan to leave their house.

Cooney refused to accept a suggestion from Mr Heneghan that his version of events was "a fabrication".

The trial continues before Judge Ryan and a jury of seven men and five women.