A member of An Garda Síochána yesterday successfully appealed a conviction on a charge of assault causing harm to his ex-girlfriend.
Garda Ross McCabe — son of the late Garda Jerry McCabe — appealed a €750 fine and conviction imposed on him earlier this year by Judge Marie Keane at Cork District Court.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin heard the case at Cork Circuit Appeals Court yesterday and allowed the appeal.
Garda Ross McCabe totally denied Caroline Ford’s claim that he punched her in the face as he drove his car during a heated argument.
He said she yanked the steering wheel, causing him to brake hard and she sustained her injuries against the dashboard of the car as she had previously removed her seatbelt.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said: “This is a case where there is a complete and total conflict of evidence in and about an incident.
“Undoubtedly it was a heightened, problematic, and dysfunctional relationship.
“There was an extraordinary number of phone calls (from the complainant prior to the disputed incident).
“It is not up to the defendant to prove anything, but if it causes me a doubt of a reasonable nature, he is entitled to the benefit of that doubt.
“In the circumstances of this case, he has raised a doubt.
“He is entitled to the benefit of that doubt. I allow the appeal.”
Garda Ross McCabe is a son of the late Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, who was shot dead as an IRA gang carried out a post office raid in the village of Adare, Co Limerick, on June 7, 1996.
Ms Ford said she and the appellant began a relationship in September 2015 and this disputed incident occurred when they met and argued when he finished a night shift at Gurranabraher Garda Station at 7am on Saturday, April 15, 2016.
Ms Ford said they met at the car park of the Country Squire pub in Rathpeacon. She got into his car and he drove towards his apartment in the Whitechurch area.
“It got really heated. The next thing he attacked me. He put his left hand into a fist and punched three times like this,” Ms Ford said.
Frank Nyhan, state solicitor who prosecuted the case, said the witness was gesturing a backwards motion with her fist.
“He connected with my mouth and my eye. He busted the insides of my mouth, inside my lip was cut. I went into a state of shock. I was crying hysterically,” she said.
Donal O’Sullivan, defending, said she had made 28 phone calls to the garda between 3.45am and 5.52am that morning. She said he had told her to keep checking in with him.
Garda McCabe testified yesterday that in one call she said she was driving around drunk and that he told her to pull in to the Country Squire car park and that he would meet her there after work.
He said that later, in his car, a row developed when “she started acting aggressively. She grabbed the steering wheel out of my hand and pulled it to the left, causing me to hit the brakes and causing her to go forward pretty hard.”
He said he tried to record her actions with his phone but she knocked it out of his hand.
Ms Ford denied this evidence. She said she drove to Limerick to Ross McCabe’s mother, Ann, with whom she got on well.
“I wanted her to see what her son was after doing to me,” she said.
Ross McCabe testified in his appeal: “I never put a finger on Caroline. It is completely fabricated that I hit her. She was physically assaulting me.”
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