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Man cleared over tourist glass attack

a man has been acquitted of assaulting a tourist who was partially blinded by flying glass in Co Offaly last year.

Gary Ward (20) of Scurragh, Birr had denied charges of assault causing harm, recklessly causing serious harm and production of an article at Keel's Arch in Birr on August 4, 2013.

At a sitting of Tullamore Circuit Court yesterday, a jury deliberated for almost three hours before finding Mr Ward not guilty on all of the charges.

Canadian resident and Birr native Marie Gauvin (59) was on holidays when she was struck by glass during Birr Vintage Week last summer.

She was an innocent bystander who had sheltered from rain in an archway when a glass was thrown during a disturbance. It struck her right eye causing massive damage and leaving her with a "life-changing" injury.

Earlier in the day, she had attended the Birr Vintage Week and Arts Festival, where her father Frank Wrafter had acted as Grand Marshall in the parade.

Shortly after the incident Mrs Gauvin attended hospital in Tullamore. She was transferred to Dublin where she was treated for fractures to her eye socket and facial cuts.

"I will never see again, the damage is too horrific to be repaired. My eye keeps receding because of lack of use," " Mrs Gauvin told the trial. "Down the road in the future they are talking about a prosthetic eye."

Professor Lorraine Cassidy of the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin provided a report on the case. It revealed that "the eye was not even recognisable as an eye".

The prosecution maintained Mr Ward and Darragh Daly had fought in Keel's Arch on the night in question. They alleged Mr Ward had thrown a glass at Mr Daly as he walked from the scuffle. The accusation was repeatedly denied by Mr Ward.

Describing it as a tragic case for Mrs Gauvin, Judge Anthony Hunt thanked the jury for not letting their hearts rule their heads. He said there was a "difficult and horrible" background to the case, and told the court that someone somewhere out there knows the truth about what happened on the night Mrs Gauvin was injured.