A MAN has gone on trial accused of knocking a hole through a Claude Monet oil painting at the National Gallery of Ireland, causing €7m worth of damage.
Andrew Shannon (48) is accused of putting his hand through Ireland's only painting by the French impressionist, entitled Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat (below). It dates from 1874 and is valued at about €10m.
Mr Shannon, of Willans Way, Ongar, told two tourists who witnessed the incident that he had "felt faint" and collapsed on to the painting.
He pleaded not guilty to causing criminal damage to the painting on June 29 last year.
The court heard that Mr Shannon worked as a French polisher with Foyle Antiques, which has now closed.
Kerida Naidoo BL, prosecuting, told the jury that Mr Shannon was caught on CCTV entering and leaving the room in the Millennium Unit of the National Gallery.
He said the two witnesses who had been holidaying here at the time have travelled from New Zealand to give evidence.
Mr Naidoo said the incident happened at about 11am, and gardai and an ambulance arrived within 15 minutes.
He said Mr Shannon had told a number of people, including the two tourists, that he had fallen or in some way collapsed against the painting. The trial continues today before Judge Desmond Hogan and a jury of seven women and five men.