The case at Clonakilty District Court also involved five solicitors, CCTV footage of a dancefloor assault, and two other witnesses in an episode which spiralled out of control after an initial altercation in Gatsby’s nightclub in Dunmanway.
Judge James McNulty heard that Holly O’Dwyer, of Chapel St in the town, was punched in the mouth in the nightclub in the early hours of December 13, 2015, by Nisha Hayden, of Nedineagh, Dunmanway, who denied doing so.
On hearing evidence and viewing CCTV footage, Judge McNulty found Mr Hayden had hit Ms O’Dwyer, but the incident was simply the spark for what followed.
Ms O’Dwyer said she first called the Garda station to no avail before going home to her mother, Mary Russell, on nearby Chapel St. The pair then got in the car and knocked on the door of the Garda station, again to no response, before driving around seeking a garda.
They then saw Ms Hayden outside Gatsby’s. Ms Russell went to remonstrate with her, with the altercation leading to Ms O’Dwyer pushing Ms Hayden, the former yesterday found guilty of assault and the latter acquitted of assault in that particular incident.
As mother and daughter drove home, Ms Hayden met friends Pamela Murray, of Market Square, Katie O’Donovan, of Market Square — absent for the hearing as she is working in Australia — Gemma Fuller of Main St, and Emma Carroll of 7 Tonafora, Bantry Rd in the town.
They accepted a lift from Megan O’Flynn — then eight months pregnant — to Ms Russell’s home.
All visitors said they went there to find out what had happened to Hayden, and there was claim and counterclaim as to exactly who assaulted whom, although Judge McNulty said Ms Carroll and Ms Fuller were “not truly the protagonists” even though they had trespassed.
The judge was satisfied that all charges against the other four women arising from the Chapel St episode were proven.
Only Ms O’Donovan had any previous convictions, for road traffic violations in her case, and the court heard the various parties had been linked by neighbourhood and friendship prior to these events.
“These ladies have not brought honour or distinction on the town of Dunmanway,” said Judge McNulty, referring to sitcom Men Behaving Badly and remarking that “this is a case of women behaving badly”.
He said the court was used to aggressive, intemperate men, but not a case where it was just women acting this way.
Ms Carroll and Ms Fuller must pay €500 to the West Cork Women Against Violence project, as must the other five women, who must also come up with “serious proposals” for voluntary work in the town, such as with its Tidy Towns effort or with sheltered housing for the elderly, when all seven must appear before court again on December 19.
Judge McNulty said if the court was then satisfied, all may avoid having convictions recorded against them under what he called an “innovative approach”.
All seven indicated they had regretted what happened. Holly O’Dwyer said she was “mortified”.
Judge McNulty said: “It’s a funny old case, clearly.”