A MAN from Schull who was accused of gouging his housemate’s eye, resulting in him needing stitches, denied a charge of assault causing him harm. The judge subsequently dismissed the charge.
Kieran Cronin of Main Street, Schull, appeared before Bantry District Court on a charge of assaulting Pat O’Donovan on the evening of November 9th 2018, but he pleaded not guilty.
In evidence for the prosecution, Pat O’Donovan said he had been living in the same house as Kieran Cronin for a few months.
On the evening of November 9th, he said he was having a couple of glasses of wine before going out to the pub to meet his grown-up son.
He said it was while he was standing in the middle of the kitchen that Kieran Cronin caught him by the scruff of the neck and said: ‘Get out of my house.’ The witness said: ‘There had been no argument, no raised voices. I couldn’t understand it.’ And, in a subsequent scuffle at the door, he said Kieran Cronin grabbed his eye.
The witness said he didn’t think much of the injury at the time and went to a pub where a concerned barman offered to call a doctor or an ambulance.
Pat O’Donovan said he refused the offer and it was only later – when he received medical treatment – that he realised how serious the injury was. The court was told that the tear to his eyeball required six stitches.
The witness admitted that, later in the pub, he drank whiskey to ‘drown the pain.’ He also admitted that when the ambulance was called he was unable to tell gardaí the exact nature of his complaint.
For a time afterwards, he said medics were unsure if he would lose the sight in his eye, but ‘thank god’ he didn’t.
Flor Murphy, solicitor for the accused, cross-examined the witness particularly around his inability to give a statement to gardaí when they met the ambulance as it passed through Ballydehob on the way to CUH.
Pat O’Donovan admitted he didn’t know what time the ambulance was called that night. He said his recollection was ‘hazy’ after leaving the house.
Garda Carina Finn was called as a witness. She said she spoke to the accused in the ambulance at about 11.45pm that night and found him to be ‘intoxicated and incoherent.’
In evidence in his own defence, Kieran Cronin said that when he went home that afternoon – after doing his shopping in Skibbereen – he saw Pat O’Donovan having a few glasses of wine. He said the last words Pat O’Donovan said to him as he went out the door is: ‘I’m late.’ Kieran Cronin told the court: ‘That is all I can recollect of that evening.’
In cross-examination by Insp O’Callaghan, the accused said: ‘I was not responsible for his eye injury. I never laid a finger on him.’
After considering the evidence, Judge James McNulty said: ‘The court has to decide if the evidence is strong enough and convincing enough that the accused is guilty as charged.’
The judge said there were certain inconsistencies in the case and the victim’s failure to report the incident immediately to the gardaí, or a GP, gave him cause for ‘reasonable doubt.’
In law, he said the accused is entitled to the benefit of that doubt and he dismissed the charge against Kieran Cronin.