Accused freed as case withdrawn

A Cork man accused of assault causing serious harm to his wife at the family home four years ago has walked free after the trial judge directed the jury to enter a not-guilty verdict yesterday.

Anthony Kelleher, aged 44, was on trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on a charge of assaulting his wife Siobhán Kelleher, 39.

It was alleged that he intentionally or recklessly caused her serious harm at the family home in Curraheen, Raleigh North, Macroom, on June 12, 2014. He replied “not guilty” to the single charge against him.

When Mrs Kelleher, who was outside the court, was called to give evidence yesterday, she indicated to State solicitor for West Cork, Malachy Boohig, that she did not want to enter the court-room.

Legal argument followed in the absence of the jury in what was the third time this case had come to trial.

Alice Fawsitt, prosecution senior counsel, said that, in light of yesterday’s developments, the DPP wished to enter a nolle prosequi, meaning it wanted to withdraw the prosecution case. Ciarán O’Loughlin, for the defence, said his application was for a directed verdict of not guilty to bring finality to the case.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan said: “The court cannot be blind to the fact that the accused has spent five months in custody.”

He later added that, in light of all that had happened across two trials and now this third trial, “enough is enough, there must be finality to proceedings… [the prosecution] have made substantial efforts to bring this matter to trial. Sometimes one’s best efforts are not good enough.”

The case opened on Monday.

Ms Fawsitt gave the jury an outline of what she anticipated the evidence would be, but emphasised the point that the outline was not in itself evidence.

“At 18.49 on June 12, 2014, a 999 call was made by Mr Kelleher requesting an ambulance, stating that Mrs Kelleher had fallen down the stairs and was unconscious and that she had her tongue between her teeth and seemed to be bleeding very heavily. It is alleged this information was on the memo of the call,” Ms Fawsitt said.

She said the memo contained the question from ambulance control “how far did she fall?” followed by the answer “four or five feet.” On the question of what caused the fall the reply was “drink”.

Ambulance personnel arrived at the house. The paramedics identified Mrs Kelleher’s injuries as life-threatening and decided to take her immediately to Cork University Hospital.

Ambulance personnel met with a doctor en route to hospital and he attended to Mrs Kelleher on the ambulance journey.

Ms Fawsitt said another doctor at the emergency department later diagnosed a number of injuries, including a blunt force head injury and the injured party was put into an induced coma for some days.

Ms Faswsitt said that when Mrs Kelleher came around, it was established that she had had a stroke, a liver laceration, lung collapse, fractured vertebrae, fractures to her left wrist and right little finger, bruising to her left leg, buttocks and both ankles and abrasions to her forehead.

The prosecution senior counsel said the hospital became concerned those injuries were inconsistent with the description of how the injuries were sustained so gardaí were contacted.

Arising out of their investigation, the prosecution alleged that Mr Kelleher assaulted her.

Again, Ms Fawsitt said this was an outline of allegations and did not constitute evidence.

She said the prosecution would have to produce the evidence to back it up.


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