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Soldier cleared of assault on commando pal

A CAPTAIN in the Defence Forces has been acquitted of assaulting a British army commando after a night out.

Captain Kenneth Cooney (37) pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Colm Croghan (38) at his home in Sarsfield Street in Dublin 7 on October 17, 2009.

The jury were still considering its verdict in relation to former garda and Captain Cooney's then housemate, Dara Mac Giolla Ri (37), who pleaded not guilty to the same offence.

The jury of seven men and five women returned their verdict in relation to Captain Cooney following two hours of deliberation on day five of the trial. The foreman told Judge Patricia Ryan they wished to continue their deliberations in relation to Mac Giolla Ri.

Mr Croghan had earlier told the jury that Captain Cooney held him down on a couch, while Mac Giolla Ri hit him on the back of a head with a metal object, opening his skull.

He told the jury that Mac Giolla Ri had struck him a further two or three times and Captain Cooney had earlier punched him a number of times in the head while swinging an iron bar at him.

Captain Cooney denied that he inflicted any injuries and told the jury that Mac Giolla Ri had "saved my life" by striking Mr Croghan while the British Commando was trying to strangle him.

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


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

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".