18 Aug 2022

Man kicked as he lay on street in Birr

Jury sees shocking CCTV footage during trial

Man kicked as he lay on street in Birr

Trial took place at Tullamore Circuit Court

JURORS at a trial in Tullamore saw CCTV footage showing a man being kicked while he lay unconscious on a street corner in Birr.

The man, James Power, 41, Ballyharty, Kilmore, Co Wexford, was on trial for assaulting Michael Gallagher at Green St, Birr on April 13, 2018.

He denied the charge and also pleaded not guilty to a charge of violent disorder when he appeared at Tullamore Circuit Court.

Shane Geraghty, BL, appeared for the DPP (instructed by Sandra Mahon, state solicitor) and William Fennelly, BL, appeared for Mr Power.

Michael Gallagher had received a suspended two-year sentence in November for assaulting James Power, causing him harm.

Mr Gallagher, 26, 13 Fairview, Birr, who was captured on CCTV footage stripped to the waist after coming out of the Chestnut pub in the town with Mr Power, was also ordered to complete 240 hours' community service in lieu of a four-year sentence for violent disorder and told to remain drug-free.

Gda Laurence O'Gorman told last week's trial that when he was on duty in Birr garda station at 11.30pm on April 13, 2018 he heard a male should from the back gate “You're not so smart now.”

He went to the scene and saw Michael Gallagher, a man he knew, standing over James Power, shouting down at him and kicking him in the head twice.

Mr Power, who sustained a laceration on the back of his head and other abrasions and bruises, did not go to hospital after being seen by ambulance paramedics.

In CCTV footage played in court, Mr Power and Mr Gallagher were seen in a pub, drinking, talking to each other and hugging.

A young woman could be seen approaching the two men at the bar and apparently asking them to leave.

Mr Power left the pub first, followed by Mr Gallagher, and they were again recorded by CCTV on the street.

They could be seen talking to each other on the footpath and after Mr Power stepped away and returned, Mr Gallagher took off his coat and both men were out on the street arguing.

As the footage continued, Mr Gallagher could be seen without his coat and tee-shirt after grabbing Mr Power's hand.

In an image which was not completely clear on the footage, Mr Power could be seen hitting Mr Gallagher with a punch after throwing his jacket back to him.

A third man came along and tried to separate the pair and that man could also be seen kicking Mr Power.

The recording also showed the first two men attempting to strike each other and after they moved down towards the street corner, Mr Power was pushed to the ground against a wall and kicked by Mr Gallagher.

The jury saw Mr Power lying on the footpath and falling down on his back as he attempted to get up and crawl away.

Michael Gallagher ran towards him while he was still on the ground and kicked him before the gardai arrived.

Gda O'Gorman gave evidence that following his arrest in Wexford, Mr Power said his actions on the night looked like self defence when he was shown the footage but he could not remember what happened, either because of drink or because he had been knocked out.

When he was asked if the incident was related to a relationship between Mr Gallagher and a woman, he said he did not know.

He said he had only been staying in Birr the odd night to see a girl and he had not known the other men at all.

The trial ended abruptly when Judge Keenan Johnson said he was really surprised the case had come before the court at all.

Speaking in the absence of the jury, he said it was “ridiculous” because Mr Power was the victim in the incident and he told Mr Geraghty that a charge of public drunkeness would have been appropriate.

He formally acceded to an application from Mr Fennelly that the accused had no case to answer.

Addressing the jury, he said he was taking the case from them because he had not the slightest doubt that the actions of the accused were primarily all in self defence and Mr Gallagher was the aggressor.

Instead of being the culprit, Mr Power was the victim of an extremely serious assault, he said.

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