Actor David Murray was spared a jail sentence today after he was convicted of attacking his former partner who accused him of hitting and strangling her during a domestic row.
Murray, 45, played the late Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan in the film 'The Guarantee' and starred in the hit television series 'Amber' which aired on RTÉ and the BBC.
He was fined €500 today after he was convicted of assaulting Jessie Mulligan at her former home, a studio apartment, in Grosvenor Sq, in Rathmines, south Dublin, in the early hours of October 5, 2013.
The Cork-born actor had denied the charge, but was found guilty following a hearing today at Dublin District Court.
Judge Hugh O'Donnell held that photos of scratch marks on Ms Mulligan's neck confirmed her account.
Murray, who lives on the South Circular Road in Dublin, claimed he had a struggle with her to retrieve his phone during a row about text messages to an ex-girlfriend.
The actor, who has also appeared in a Dublin Airport Authority advert for Terminal 2 and has been made a member of the Irish Film Academy faculty, plans to appeal the verdict.
Ms Mulligan, 41, said she thought Murray would kill her when he grabbed by her throat, hit her in the face twice and had his knee on her chest.
She also claimed it was an abusive relationship and Murray manipulated her and had isolated her from her friends and family. She also claimed that she had moved home to get away from him.
She said that at about 10.30pm Murray arrived at her new apartment. He had been meant to come over earlier but had been drinking, she said.
She claimed Murray had been recently evicted from his apartment and she said he was pathetic and had nowhere to stay. She had let him stay at her new home and he also brought his pet dog, she told the court.
She said he was drunk and wanted something to eat and went to her kitchenette to prepare some food and they had been arguing: “This had been going on for a while and I had just had enough,” she said, adding that she did not want him there.
He had a shower and they went to bed together and “we were just messing around”.
“He was trying to be with me, I did not want to be with him, eventually he fell asleep. I did not feel comfortable. I got out of the bed and went to the bathroom,” she said.
She explained that she had a feeling that something was not right and looked at his phone.
She claimed there were text messages containing lies about her and she wanted him out of her apartment. She woke him up and showed him the messages and claimed he told her she was paranoid and that he asked her to show him the messages.
Ms Mulligan alleged he came towards her, was really aggressive and she fell back onto a couch.
“He had his knee on my neck and had his hand around my throat, he was strangling me,” she claimed.
She said she had thrown his phone on the floor before he went at her. She said he hit her twice to the sides of her head and was shouting that she had ruined a friendship he had with another person.
“He was naming someone while hitting me,” she said
“I started saying: 'I'm sorry' to try and put him off, to do something to distract him,” she said.
Ms Mulligan told the court Murray then put his hands up and was looking around and she then had an opportunity to push him off her.
She ran out of the apartment in her pyjamas and saw a delivery man and asked him to call the guards. His dog had also run out of the building when she left.
She said she then hid in a garden down a few doors down and he phoned her and said “give me my f***ing dog and I will leave."
In cross-examination with defence solicitor Matthew de Courcy she agreed she invited him over but said she was not sure why. She had just moved into the apartment following an earlier assault by Murray, she claimed.
She said he was manipulative and “convinced me that I would be better off around him”.
“He was banging on my door, I had to let him in,” she said.
She said they argued for two hours and she did not want him there and she did not feel safe.
There had been a previous assault, she claimed, and she said he had “isolated me from friends and family, I had moved to this apartment to get away from him”.
She admitted there had been some intimacy and they were “fooling around” but she said “I did not want to be with him and he fell asleep”.
She said he was drunk and had manipulated her again and she wanted him to leave. After she found the messages on his phone she asked him to go.
Ms Mulligan denied Murray's claim that they ended up rolling around while he was trying to retrieve his phone. She said that was a lie and he had his knee on her chest and his arm around her throat.
She also rejected Murray's claims he had not hit her on her right and left cheek. She also said she went to hospital and had to wear a neck brace.
She agreed she said in her statement that she thought father-of-two Murray was going to kill her and she said “he was crazy”.
She said she did not have him prosecuted for a previous assault because she would feel sorry for his kids from a previous relationship.
“When you are in an abusive relationship you do not understand what is normal, he had somehow made me think that if I had him around me he would not hurt me, but I know he had full intentions that he would,” she told the court.
Garda Andrew Dunne told the court he found Ms Mulligan standing in the garden of a house on Grosvenor Sq in her pyjamas and she was crying. He took photos of scratch marks to her chest and upper neck.
He located Murray who told him that he had been trying to retrieve his phone from Ms Mulligan and had grabbed her by her neck during the altercation.
He agreed that Murray had drink taken but also said he was coherent and co-operative and later gave a full statement.
Murray, who has appeared in Vikings, Batman and GI Joe, gave evidence during the trial and told Judge O'Donnell that he had Ms Mulligan were seeing each other a few times a week and when he arrived he was greeted with no hostility.
But for a couple of hours there was an underlying disrespect for an ex-girlfriend, he said. "She had Facebooked an ex-girlfriend of mine on my Facebook," he said.
He said she woke him and she went “berserk” and was screaming at him about text messages to an ex-girlfriend on his phone. She was trying to scroll through down through them and refused to give the phone back, he said.
“We struggled for the phone and she left,” he said.
“I have never hit a woman in my life and never will, that is ridiculous, that is a lie,” he said. He said he struggled with her for three or four seconds for the phone and that must have caused the scrapes on her.
He said that during the struggle he fell on top of her and he grabbed the phone and he did not want her reading his text messages. “It was my phone, it was my property,” he said.
Judge O'Donnell got Murray to look at the photos of the scratch to Ms Mulligan's neck and he asked the actor “I take it the phone was not there, was it?”.
Murray said “No” and when asked about the mark on her chest and if she had the phone there, he answered: “it might have been in the general area”.
Judge O'Donnell did not accept defence arguments that Murray had used reasonable force in the struggle to get his phone back.
He agreed the force used was unreasonable, that Ms Mulligan was in so much fear she ran out in her pyjamas and had to ask a stranger to call the gardaí.
He convicted the actor who had six prior convictions, mostly for motoring offences, and none for assault.
He told Murray to he must pay the fine within one year otherwise he would be jailed for 14 days in default.
Murray later lodged papers to appeal the case.