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Violence at awards bash night

GLITZY awards night at the Mansion House ended in violence when one of the winners punched a judge to the floor.

The top marketing executive rained blows on his victim in a scene straight out of the hit television series Mad Men.

A city court was told how Gary Brown punched judge John O’Connor when his victory speech was criticised for being “disparaging”.

John O’Connor was left bleeding and gardai were called as the An Post Direct Marketing Awards Night at the Mansion House ended in uproar.

Brown, whose clients include Guinness parent company Diageo and Bord Gais, rained blows on Mr O’Connor after he won the night’s top award.

The unprovoked attack, in which the victim suffered a lacerated nose, happened five minutes after Brown's company, RMG Target, won top prize.

Brown, who is chief executive of several companies, was found guilty at Dublin District Court of assault causing harm to Mr O’Connor on May 7, 2009.

The accused, with an address at Howth Road, Clontarf, had denied the charge, claiming he struck the victim once in selfdefence because he felt he was about to be attacked.

He insisted in court yesterday: “I am not a thug.”

Judge Ann Watkin said Brown had not been under any threat, that he had lied in evidence and was facing a possible jail sentence.

She adjourned the case for a week to decide on sentencing after Brown offered to donate €5,000 to a charity nominated by the victim.

The court heard Brown's company had won the Agency of the Year award for the fourth time in a row when he gave a brief speech at the podium.

He told the ceremony: “I would like to say it's great to see new faces coming in like Acorn (a competitor) doing really well, and other people making great videos that make us laugh every year. Well done.”

Witnesses told the court the atmosphere in the room “went down” after the speech.

As celebrations began at Brown's table, Mr O'Connor and another judge, Justin Cullen went over and asked him aside for a quiet word.

The three went into the corridor and Mr O'Connor and Mr Cullen criticised his comments for “disparaging the awards”.

Brown told them to f **k off, sticking his finger up at them. Mr O'Connor then called him a “knacker” and Brown responded by punching him in the face, the court was told.

The victim fell and grabbed onto him. The pair went to the ground, smashing a table of glasses, and Brown struck Mr O'Connor up to five times, witnesses told the court.

A security man pulled Brown off the victim, who was left bleeding and with an injury to his nose.

Brown claimed in evidence that Mr O’Connor and Mr Cullen had been “aggressive” when they came to his table.

He claimed he felt embarrassed because he had clients from companies such as Diageo, TSB and Bord Gais in his company. He went with Mr O’Connor and Mr Cullen into the corridor.

He claimed Mr O’Connor told him his conduct at the podium was “f **king loutish” and asked him “who the hell did he think he was”.

Brown admitted telling Mr O’Connor to f**k off but maintained that the victim called him a “knacker” several times and was frightened he was going to be struck by him. He denied punching him on the ground. Other witnesses described what they saw as “handbags” or a “schoolyard” brawl.

Brown’s barrister said the accused was of previously good character. Brown was originally from Cabra, had come from “humble origins” and “worked his way up to the top of his field”. He had seen the use of the word “knacker” as a “more personal put-down”.