Monday 20 November 2017

Former Ireland rugby star acquitted of harassing his estranged wife

Former Ulster star Paddy Wallace with wife Tina
Former Ulster star Paddy Wallace with wife Tina

Alan Erwin

Former Ireland and Ulster rugby star Paddy Wallace has been acquitted of harassing his estranged wife.

A judge at Belfast Magistrates' Court dismissed the charge against the retired sportsman after identifying inconsistencies in Tina Wallace's evidence.

She also refused a prosecution application to impose a restraining order.

Mr Wallace, 37, was accused of subjecting his wife to harassment over two dates in May last year.

By that stage the couple had split after 11 years of marriage, with the ex-rugby star moving out of the family home in east Belfast.

The court was told he sent 41-year-old Mrs Wallace a number of text messages on May 1.

During a contested hearing she claimed he appeared at the kitchen window of the house while a male friend was present.

It was also alleged that her husband tried to take photographs.

Former Ireland star Paddy Wallace
Former Ireland star Paddy Wallace

Mr Wallace, capped 30 times in an international career which involved being part of Ireland's 2009 Grand-Slam winning team, denied the allegations.

His barrister, Richard McConkey, challenged the account during cross-examination of the alleged victim.

Delivering judgment on the case today, District Judge Fiona Bagnall stressed that successful prosecution on a harassment charge requires a course of conduct of at least two incidents.

She pointed to discrepancies between the evidence given of the second alleged incident and an account given in separate proceedings.

Mrs Bagnall said it was unfortunate police did not obtain a statement from the witness in the house.

"I cannot be satisfied to the relevant standard what happened on that date," she said.

"In those circumstances I have to dismiss the charge."

Dressed in a grey suit, Mr Wallace, of Station Road in Holywood, Co Down, showed no emotion in the dock as he was acquitted.

He left court without commenting on the case.

But his lawyer, Jonathan Burke of McConnell Kelly Solicitors, said: "Mr Wallace is pleased with the outcome of today's hearing and wishes to thank his legal team, friends and family for their support at this difficult time.

"He now wants to move on with his life and focus on his two children."

Belfast Telegraph

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