Garda who survived shooting in US wins appeal against conviction for assaulting two women

By Conor Kane

A garda who was convicted of assaulting two women during a row over a lift home from a night out has won his appeal against the conviction.

Brian Hanrahan (34) with an address at Ballintotty, Nenagh, Co Tipperary was found guilty last year of assaulting Emer Kelly and Aisling King, causing them harm, in the early hours of March 6, 2016.

File picture of Brian Hanrahan at an earlier court sitting

He received suspended sentences of six months and three months in the district court.

Mr Hanrahan, who survived being shot near an ATM by an armed robber while on holiday in New Orleans in 2015, appealed the district court verdicts and his appeal was allowed at Nenagh Circuit Court on Friday.

Judge Thomas Teehan said that, while he wasn’t disbelieving the young women who gave evidence against Brian Hanrahan, there was a “residual doubt” concerning the guilt of Mr Hanrahan.

Emer Kelly told the court on Thursday that Brian Hanrahan kicked her in the face and punched her several times after she asked him for €15 which they had agreed he would pay for a lift home, while Aisling King said that Mr Hanrahan hit her twice on the face when she tried to stop him assaulting Emer Kelly.

Brian Hanrahan told the appeal hearing that he was trying to stop Emer Kelly from hitting and kicking him when he hit her.

“I’m sorry about everything that happened, but more so about that, than anything. I didn’t want to hit her, but the situation I was in, I felt I had to.”

He said the allegation that he hit Ms Kelly 6-8 times was “ridiculous” and that as soon as he hit her once, she stopped.

The incident happened at about 4am on Sunday, March 6 of 2016, after he asked Ms King, Ms Kelly and another of their friends to give him a lift from Nenagh to his home about 4km away. They didn’t know each other beforehand.

He had been go-karting and clay pigeon shooting with cousins of his wife on the Saturday afternoon and then went to a couple of pubs that evening, before going to the Maximus nightclub in Nenagh. He couldn’t get a taxi home after the nightclub and was standing outside Supermac’s for a couple of hours, “freezing cold,” which was why he approached the girls looking for a lift.

In the car, he said the crowd in Maximus was “a bit rough” and the girls took offence and the atmosphere became “awkward” and “uncomfortable” and, eventually, Emer Kelly started demanding he pay €50 to Aisling King, the driver.

When the car stopped and he got out, near Lisbunny graveyard some distance short of his home, the car started edging behind him and he thought it was going to touch his leg.

He said to them: “would ye just f... off” and Emer Kelly then jumped out of the car and shouted “you give her the money” and grabbed his wrist, ripped his shirt open and started kicking him on the shin and hitting him in the face. “It was a kind of frenzy,” Mr Hanrahan told the court.

The other girls were laughing in the car but then he “hit her back” and it all stopped. Aisling King got out of the car and called him a scumbag and he pushed her away with his hands. He didn’t hit her, he said.

“If I could take it all back, I would,” Mr Hanrahan said in court.

“It’s easily the worst thing that ever happened to me. I’m sorry the girls were upset by it and I’m sorry that Emer Kelly has an injury. I’m sorry for the whole lot. If I could have it back again, I wouldn’t get into that situation... At the time I did what I felt I had to do.”

Judge Teehan said that if Ms Kelly had sustained 6-8 blows to the face from Mr Hanrahan, who is 6’3” compared to her 5’3”, more damage would be expected to the facial area. The injury she did receive, including a tooth left hanging, swollen upper and lower lips and a laceration to one lip, was “consistent with one blow,” the Judge said.

He allowed the appeal against both convictions.

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