A stag party in Galway city and dispute over land made for a nasty cocktail that ended with a man being assaulted in a hotel bathroom.
Myles Fitzgerald, with an address at Ballon, Co. Carlow was convicted of assaulting Denis O’Toole following a hearing at Galway District Court.
The 36 year old man denied attacking Mr O’Toole in the bathroom of the Imperial Hotel, and claimed that he was the one assaulted by the complainant.
Garda Sean McHugh told the District Court that on January 18, 2020, Denis O’Toole came to Galway Garda Station and reported that he had been assaulted.
When he initially reported the incident, Mr O’Toole said that he didn’t want to pursue charges, Garda McHugh said under cross-examination, but changed his mind a few weeks later.
The court heard that the assault occurred during a stag party for another man that both of them were attending.
Denis O’Toole told the court that he had arrived at his cousin’s stag party at the King’s Head on the evening of January 17.
He said that he saw Mr Fitzgerald and tried to avoid him, but that the defendant came up to him and started making comments about him owing money to Mr Fitzgerald’s father.
Later, back at the bar in the Imperial Hotel he said that he went to the bathroom, and was followed in by Myles Fitzgerald.
He said that when he tried to leave, the other man said something before elbowing him twice and hitting him in the head.
Solicitor Sean Acton, for the defence, asked him if he went to the Gardaí the following morning “to get your speak in first” in case Mr Fitzgerald made a complaint, which he denied.
CCTV footage from the hotel bar was collected by Garda McHugh, and appeared to show Mr O’Toole wiping something from his face after returning from the bathroom.
Myles Fitzgerald gave a different account of events, where he said that O’Toole punched him while he was in the bathroom.
He claimed that on the evening in question Mr O’Toole came up to him and told him to buy him a pint while the party was at the pub, but that he said they should stay away from each other.
Fitzgerald said that back at the hotel, he was in the bathroom when he saw something in the corner of his eye, before being punched in the head and knocked to the ground.
He claimed he struck his head on the toilet when he fell down, and that Mr O’Toole then said to him, “you’d love to hit me, wouldn’t you?”
Inspector John Maloney put it to Mr Fitzgerald that he never made a complaint to the Gardaí about this, even when later interviewed.
Mr Fitzgerald said that the two of them were from the same village, and that he didn’t want anything to fester.
There was a long standing dispute surrounding agricultural land Mr O’Toole had rented from Mr Fitgerald’s father, and money allegedly owed over it.
But the two men gave different accounts of that dispute and the events surrounding it.
Garda McHugh said that he received a medical report from University Hospital Waterford, which said that O’Toole had been treated there on Janaury 20.
The medical report provided for the court said that Mr O’Toole suffered a perforated eardrum.
Judge Fahy said that it was clear that Mr O’Toole was assaulted, and that the medical evidence was consistent with his claims.
She convicted Mr Fitzgerald, who had no previous criminal convictions, of the assault, and fined him €1,000.
Leave to appeal was granted, with recognisance fixed at his own bond of €300, half of which was to be lodged with the court