Barrister loses appeal against conviction for headbutting creche manager

Barrister loses appeal against conviction for headbutting creche manager
Michael Waters. Pic: Collins.

A qualified barrister who headbutted a créche manager and broke her nose has lost an appeal against his conviction for assault causing harm, writes Ann O'Loughlin.

In October, 2013, Michael Waters (aged 44), of Ava Avenue, Belfast, was given a suspended three-year sentence after he was found guilty by a majority jury of assaulting Marian Wallace on January 4, 2012.

Mr Waters, who is disabled and suffers from a progressive muscle-wasting condition, was also ordered to make any contact with the injured party or any member of staff at her créche in south Dublin for 15 years.

He appealed his conviction and today, a three-judge Court of Appeal dismissed his case.

It found his conviction before the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was safe.

Mr Justice John Edwards said on the day before the incident, Ms Wallace received an email from Mr Waters' partner revoking permission for him to collect their child from the créche.

Mr Waters arrived on January 4 and insisted he was not leaving without the child. Ms Wallace tried to get him to go outside the children's room.

There developed an incident in a corridor in which Ms Wallace said Waters threatened her, attempted to bite her on the face and then tried to bite her hand as she held a door handle to prevent him getting back into the room.

Then, before telling her "I'm going to hurt you", he "put back his head and headbutted me straight into the face," she said.

Mr Waters claimed she hit her nose after he managed to get in front of her when she pulled and dragged him from behind with the result he fell over on her. Ms Wallace said that never happened.

Mr Waters appealed his conviction and sentence on 10 grounds including a failure by prosecutors to disclose certain witness statements, including from Ms Wallace.

Rejecting his appeal against conviction, Mr Justice Edwards said the court considered that none of the undisclosed statements contained any significant inconsistency, in the sense of containing something radically different from what was said on another occasion.

Mr Waters, in complaining about non-disclosure, had not engaged with the evidence actually given at trial and had not demonstrated how that undisclosed material might have made a difference to the outcome, the judge said.

The court also refused his application to adduce new evidence by allowing Waters further cross-examine witnesses in relation to the undisclosed statements.

It also rejected grounds of appeal alleging failures in the garda investigation or of an embellishment of evidence by the prosecution resulting in unfairness.

In relation to one of the other grounds of appeal, that the prosecution failed to provide criminal records of prosecution witnesses in advance of the trial, the court found Mr Waters had not adduced any evidence to suggest any of those witnesses actually had criminal records.

It was regrettable he was not informed of what the position was, the court said, but it did not give rise to any actual unfairness at the trial.

The court also dismissed all other grounds of appeal.


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