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Drinker cleared of garda attack in club scuffle

A man has been cleared of seriously assaulting an off-duty garda who had his nose lacerated in a nightclub attack.

Karl Whelan (23) was accused of injuring the officer in a city centre club, but had the charge dismissed when a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence against him and he had no case to answer.

Dublin District Court heard Garda Daniel Nolan and his colleague Garda Edward Duffy were both injured when they were attacked in an incident at Copper Face Jack's on November 2.

Mr Whelan, of Durrow Road, Crumlin, was acquitted of assault causing harm to Garda Nolan after pleading not guilty to the charge at Dublin District Court. Co-accused Patrick Ryan, of Park View, Moneygall, Co Offaly admitted to assault causing harm to both gardai and his case has been adjourned for a probation report.

Both gardai were off duty and socialising at the time of the incident. Garda Nolan gave evidence that he was at the bar when the accused, who he did not know, became "pushy" while looking to get served.

Garda Nolan told him: "Would you ever relax." Mr Whelan became aggressive in a "smart exchange", he said.

Garda Nolan then noticed a "bigger gentleman came into the picture" and said the accused became more aggressive. "(The defendant) leaned into me, he put his forehead to the side of my head and said, 'what are you going to do about that?' and pushed my head backwards," the garda alleged.

He said he had to use the bar to stabilise himself and then, fearing nearby bottles and glasses might be used against him, he pushed Mr Whelan's head away.

"The next thing I recall is punches flying," the garda said. He told the court he grabbed hold of the other man who was there as punches "skimmed off the top of his head".

Afterwards, he had a 1.5cm laceration to his right nostril.

Cross-examined by the defendant's barrister, Garda Nolan said he made the first contact by asking Mr Whelan to "relax" but denied that he assaulted Mr Whelan by pushing his head.

The defendant's barrister also argued that a security staff member had identified the co-accused as having Garda Nolan in a headlock while pulling his nose upwards and this was consistent with the injuries.

He argued that Mr Whelan acted "justifiably and legally" and the evidence was that the harm to Garda Nolan was inflicted by the co-accused.

The State Solicitor said CCTV evidence had its "limitations" and that Garda Nolan remained uncontradicted in his evidence.