Jury discharged in 'garda impersonation' trial

The jury in the trial of a Meath man who allegedly called to a Dublin house pretending to be a garda has been discharged after failing to agree on a verdict following almost eight hours deliberation.

Tony Hand (aged 35) of Kilbrena Estate, Dunboyne had pleaded not guilty to assaulting Daniel O'Connell causing him harm by fracturing his jaw on November 14, 2004 at Lally Road, Ballyfermot.

Judge Patrick McCartan discharged the jury on day-four of the hearing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after the foreman announced that it couldn't reach a decision following seven hours and 41 minutes recorded time of deliberation. The jury also spent one night in a hotel.

Judge McCartan thanked the ten men and two women for their efforts to reach a verdict and said the case would be mentioned again early next month to learn if a new trial will be held.

The jury had heard Mr O'Connell agree with defence counsel, Ms Teresa Lowe BL, that another man hit him twice on his left cheek earlier on the evening of November 14, 2004 during a row outside Ruby Finnegan's Pub, Ballyfermot but he denied his jaw was fractured in this assault.

Mr O'Connell told prosecution counsel, Ms Fiona Murphy BL, that following the earlier fracas, Mr Hand and the other man called to his ex-partner's house at Lally Road, Ballyfermot pretending to be gardaí.

He said Mr Hand hit him on his left eye and got him into a headlock before bringing him to the ground in the hallway and stamping on his face three times.

Mr O'Connell said he had a metal plate inserted during an operation to mend two fractures to his jaw and wasn't able to communicate or eat properly for weeks afterwards because of the injury which he said was exacerbated by an infection.

When Ms Lowe suggested that medical reports stated he had only one fracture, he replied that he saw two lines on an x-ray taken the next morning and had therefore "deduced" he had two fractures.

Ms Lowe showed Mr O'Connell a copy of his formal complaint to gardai about the first assault in which he stated the man attacked him, his ex-partner and her daughter outside the pub.

She put it to him that he gave false information to gardaí if his testimony in the trial was that the man only assaulted him outside the pub.

Mr O'Connell agreed that the complaint record was wrong. He acknowledged that gardai took it down correctly from him but denied Ms Lowe's suggestion that he was "prone to exaggeration".

Mr O'Connell said he got into the fight outside the pub because he reported this man's car registration to gardai when he thought he was going to drive home drunk and he was concerned about the man's six-year-old daughter being a passenger in the car.

He agreed this man hit him twice but he said the blows weren't strong because the assailant was drunk and he couldn't feel pain because he had also been drinking.


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