Player cleared of breaking opponent's nose
A FOOTBALLER who broke an opponent's nose with a punch has been cleared of assault after a judge accepted that he had believed he was acting to protect a team-mate.
Hugh Byrne (21) felt his friend was in danger of injury from several members of the other team when he delivered the punch that broke Charlie Campbell's nose, Dublin District Court heard.
Judge Catherine Murphy said what happened was "spontaneous, ill-judged and regrettable", but ruled that the punch did not constitute assault causing harm.
She dismissed the charge.
Mr Byrne, with an address at Knocknashee, Goatstown, had pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Campbell at UCD, Belfield on November 6, 2010.
He had admitted striking Mr Campbell, but his lawyer argued the use of force was justified to protect his team-mate.
Judge Murphy said that she was satisfied that the player Mr Byrne had come to the assistance of Mark McGroarty, who had been involved in an altercation with more than two people, including Mr Campbell.
Mr Byrne had stated he never intended to hit Mr Campbell so hard and his reaction at the time was to apologise.
There had been evidence that Mr Campbell turned around as he was punched and the judge said this may had affected the force of the blow.
She concluded that the accused had believed "correctly or not" that "in order to protect Mr McGroarty from injury it was reasonable for him, in the circumstances as he believed them to be, to strike a blow to Mr Campbell in the manner and with the force which he did".
During the trial, the prosecution had maintained the punch had been disproportionate to what was happening at the time.