A 22-year-old CIT student told Bandon District Court that he acted in self-defence when he struck a man in Kinsale leaving him unconscious on the roadway.
Matthew Anthony, of 10 Gleann Rua, Ballygarvan, had been at the rugby games at the Kinsale 7s on May 5th last year and struck Kevin Costello with a ‘closed fist’, causing him to collapse unconscious.
Mr Costello told the court that he had also been at the Kinsale 7s that day, that he had been drinking with friends, and was on his way to be collected by his mother when the incident occurred. He could not remember anything after that.
Mr Costello, who was assisted by plain clothes gardaí at the scene of the incident, told Insp Dave Callaghan that he vaguely remembered leaving the garda station and going with his mother to SouthDoc and then on to the CUH where he received stitches in his lip and that he later discovered that he had a chipped tooth and a concussion.
Matthew Anthony said that he went to the aid of his friend Rory Dineen who was involved in an argument with Kevin Costello following an incident where he, Kevin Costello, had stepped onto the back of Rory Dineen’s foot, dislodging his shoe.
Mr Anthony said that he went to help his friend who was with his girlfriend and who was in a heated argument with Kevin Costello.
‘He (Kevin Costello) was very aggressive and came towards me,’ Matthew Anthony told the court.
‘I pushed him back, and he fell into a sitting position on the ground. He then got up and came at me again and I hit him in the face.’
Garda Sean O’Connor, who was on plain clothes duty with Det Garda Padraig Slattery in an unmarked car and witnessed the incident, told Judge James McNulty that he saw what appeared to be an argument between a large group of males.
‘As we approached the junction of Pier Road and Emmet Place in Kinsale, we saw one male strike another male with a closed fist,’ Garda O’Connor said.
‘I saw the male who was struck fall to the ground and I immediately called for assistance from another two plain clothes gardaí who were in the area. I did this because immediately after, five or six males ran from the scene and we pursued them in the car.’
Garda O’Connor said that a short distance away they stopped the group they had seen at the incident and that he spoke to Matthew Anthony, cautioned him, and took him to Kinsale Garda Station, where he admitted striking Kevin Costello.
Under examination from Insp Callaghan, Mr Anthony disputed the evidence given by Garda O’Connor regarding fact that they ran from the scene of the incident.
‘We didn’t run, we walked away, because we didn’t want any more trouble,’ he said.
However, Insp Dave Callaghan said that it was ‘alarming and questionable’ that after Kevin Costello was punched, ‘and knocked unconscious’ no one approached him to check on his welfare.’
Solicitor Diarmuid O’Shea, for Matthew Anthony, said that his client had never been in trouble with the gardaí before and that he was fully co-operative.
Mr O’Shea said that Matthew Anthony felt he was going to be attacked had acted in self-defence.
However, Judge McNulty said that he was very surprised that Kevin Costello’s friends were not in court to give evidence. However, he rejected the self-defence excuse for Matthew Anthony’s actions.
Judge McNulty also heard from Matthew Anthony’s father who said that his son had never given any trouble and that Kinsale was ‘bedlam’ that night.
‘It was not lawful for Matthew Anthony to there and then strike a severe forceful blow into the face of Kevin Costello which caused injury and harm,’ Judge McNulty said.
An apology and compensation was offered to Kevin Costello, which was welcomed by the court.
However, Judge McNulty found the case against Matthew Anthony proven but deferred penalty until April 2nd so that compensation could be arranged.