Newspaper article delays trial of TV fitness instructor

The trial of TV fitness instructor Francis Usanga for assaulting his ex-girlfriend has been delayed over a newspaper article purporting to be an interview with the complainant.
Newspaper article delays trial of TV fitness instructor

The 29-year-old former Today show fitness expert with an address at Lanesboro, Finglas, north Dublin, is accused of assault causing harm to model Emma Murphy. The charge is under Section Three of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.

The attack allegedly took place at FX Fitness gym in Santry in north Dublin on July 3 last year.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge and his non-jury trial at Dublin District Court was due to get underway yesterday.

However, when the case was called, his solicitor Michael Hanahoe said he intended to complain to the DPP over the possibility of contempt of court as a result of the publication of an interview with Ms Murphy in the latest edition of the Sunday World.

Mother of two Ms Murphy, aged 26, a model and fitness blogger, was at the courthouse supported by family members.

She had been expected to give evidence yesterday.

A state solicitor told the court that Ms Murphy did not give permission for the article.

A copy of the piece was handed in to Judge Hugh O’Donnell, who described it as “outrageous”.

He adjourned the trial until April 25 and ordered that the author of the article, Eugene Masterson, would have to attend the hearing on that date to give an explanation as to why the article was published a few days before the trial was due to commence.

Dressed in a navy suit, white shirt and a dark blue tie, Mr Usanga remained silent during the proceedings.

The DPP has directed summary disposal. This means the case should not be sent forward to the circuit court, which has tougher sentencing powers.

Earlier, medical reports were furnished to the court which also heard an outline of the allegations.

“It will be alleged that the altercation occurred following a dispute between both parties, there had been series of rows,” Garda Inspector Michael Mulligan has told the court.

Jurisdiction was accepted meaning the case will remain in the district court which, on conviction, can impose a sentence of up to 12 months as well as fine.

Mr Usanga previously appeared in TV3’s Red Rock series and has also appeared as a fitness trainer on RTÉ’s The Today Show presented by Dáithí Ó Sé and Maura Derrane on a number of occasions.

A former BScene model, he also appeared in Jennifer Maguire’s dating series, One Night Stand, in 2010. He formerly worked at FX Fitness, in Santry, north Dublin. At a previous hearing, free legal aid was granted after a statement of his means was furnished to the court which was also told he is currently unemployed.

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