The jury in the violent disorder trial of Republic of Ireland footballer Jeff Hendrick has been told to put the fact that he plays football out of their minds, reports Jessica Magee.
Mr Hendrick (25), originally from Kilmore Drive, Artane, Dublin but now living in the UK, denies committing violent disorder at Harcourt Street, Dublin on October 12, 2013.
Co-accused Jonathan Doran (26) has denied the same charge. Mr Doran, of Kilmore Close in Artane, has also pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Darren McDermott on the same occasion.
Mr McDermott has given evidence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Mr Hendrick dragged him from a taxi after a verbal row had broken out inside Krystle nightclub. He said he ended up on the ground and received kicks to his head, face, chest and back.
Jeff Hendrick and Darren McDermott
In his closing speech to the jury, Sean Gillane SC, defending Mr Hendrick, said it seemed to be a “thing of interest” that his client played football.
“I’d ask you to put this out of your mind,” said Mr Gillane, adding that he too had wanted as a youngster to take the boat to England to play football, although it didn’t happen.
Mr Gillane cited what someone had said to him at the time, that “talent is not worthy of respect” and said Mr Hendrick had not reached his current position because of talent.
“He’s where he is because of application, diligence and the distinction with which he carries himself from the day he got that boat when he was 16, to where he is now,” said Mr Gillane.
Judge Martin Nolan also asked the jury to “bring their common sense” to the trial.
“Many of us like football; many of us like Premier footballers, and many of us don’t; but Mr Hendrick is entitled to a fair and impartial trial,” he said in his charge to the jury.
Earlier, the court heard that Mr Jonathan Doran had said his friend Mr Hendrick was sometimes called “ignorant” by members of the public if he didn’t say hello.
“A lot of the time, people come up to Jeff, and if he doesn’t say hello, people call him an ignorant prick just because he’s a footballer,” Mr Doran told gardaí on his arrest.
Mr Doran denied punching or kicking Mr McDermott, but has admitted chasing him up a lane way and sitting on him.
Jonathan Doran arriving at court: Picture Collins Courts.
The court also heard from witness Shannon Farrell, who came to the assistance of Mr McDermott on the night in question.
Ms Farrell said she and her friend were passing by in a rickshaw when they saw a group of people beating up a man on Montague Street.
She said she saw Mr McDermott on the ground with a lot of blood on his shirt. “He looked like he’d been badly beaten up,” she said.
The two women helped the man to get up and then spoke to gardaí when they arrived. Neither of the women knew any of the people involved.
Judge Nolan said to Ms Farrell, “You were very brave on the night in question.”
In his closing speech to the jury, Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, said there was no dispute that Mr McDermott was assaulted and suffered multiple serious injuries including a fractured jaw.
He asked the jury whether it was realistic that Mr McDermott might “misidentify” Mr Hendrick as being the man who had pulled him out of a taxi.
He said Mr McDermott was “into football himself” and that one of the men chasing him “happened to be a professional footballer playing for the Republic of Ireland...do you think he’s going to misidentify him?”
Mr Gillane told the jury they were relying on Mr McDermott’s evidence alone, and that it was like listening to “the sound of one hand clapping”.
Judge Nolan will resume his charge to the jury tomorrow morning before they are sent out to begin deliberating a verdict.
The court also heard today from Sergeant Damian Beakey, who read out interviews given by Mr Doran on his arrest.
Mr Doran told gardaí that he had been talking to a girl in the nightclub when he saw Mr Hendrick arguing with Darren McDermott. He said Mr McDermott went to shake Mr Hendrick’s hand, but he pushed it away and a row broke out.
When the scuffle continued outside the nightclub, Mr Doran said he thought Mr Hendrick had been hit, so he chased Mr McDermott who had got into a taxi.
He further described chasing Mr McDermott down a lane way after he had got out of the taxi.
He said Mr McDermott turned and said, “I swear, I didn’t touch your mate Jeff,” and then fell down.
Mr Doran said he replied, “well, sort it fucking out then” and ended up sitting on top of him.
Mr Doran told gardaí, “I didn’t actually expect to catch him, but he fell. I was playing the hard man. I just wanted to chase him to make it look like I cared,” he said.
Mr Doran denied punching or kicking Mr McDermott, but identified another man whom he said kicked the alleged victim in the face.
He told gardaí the group had bought “easily” seven bottles of vodka that night.
The trial continues