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18 May 2022

Man tells Offaly trial his finger was cut off after attack by hooded man wearing Covid mask

Tullamore Circuit Court courtroom courtroom

Man tells court his finger had to be amputated because of assault

A MAN told a trial today (Wednesday, April 27) how he lost half a finger as a result of an assault in Offaly nearly two years ago.

Keith Dunne said he was involved in construction work on a footpath in the centre of Edenderry town on June 18, 2020 when a man hit him from behind with what he later discovered was a Japanese pull saw.

Mr Dunne said on that day he was working with a digger driver who was breaking concrete and his own job was to stand and ensure no debris went out on the street when traffic was passing.

He said he was standing there holding a screen when he heard a shout and he turned around and saw a man he identified as Craig Connolly swinging a blade down towards his head.

He said the blade hit his hard hat, bounced off it and then hit his nose, resulting in Mr Dunne falling back.

Mr Dunne said the blade then came down with such force that it took half of a finger off and injured other fingers on his left hand.

The handle broke off the weapon and the attacker took off running.

Mr Dunne, a native of Athy, Co Kildare, who was living in Monasterevin at the time, said he was brought by ambulance to hospital in Tullamore before being transferred to St James's Hospital, Dublin.

His finger was reattached but because of repeated infections he decided to have it amputated a number of months later.

Mr Dunne said his attacker was wearing a hood and a black Covid mask but he recognised him as the man who was at the time going out with the mother of his young son.

The trial at Tullamore Circuit Court also heard evidence from Garda Damien Barron who took photographs at the scene which depicted what appeared to be blood spatters at a number of places on the footpath leading from the site of the alleged assault to a van nearby. Garda Barron took swabs from the spatters as evidence.

A blade was found in the van and the jury heard it had been brought there after the attack having been recovered by the victim.

The digger driver, Peter McCormack, employer of Mr Dunne, told the trial he saw a man running across the street and striking the victim.

After the assault Mr McCormack said he put a clean rag on Mr Dunne's hand while they waited in the van for the ambulance to arrive.

Craig Connolly (30), Kinnefad, Edenderry, has pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Dunne at JKL Street, Edenderry, causing him harm, and has also denied assaulting him, causing him serious harm.

He has further denied possessing an article, a pull saw, in a public place, intending to cause injury, incapacitate or intimidate another person.

A co-accused in the trial, Sean Dillon (42), St Brigid's Road, Edenderry, is accused of assaulting Mr Dunne, causing him harm, along with another charge of causing Mr Dunne serious harm.

Opening the trial yesterday Kevin White, BL, prosecuting (instructed by Offaly state solicitor Sandra Mahon), told the jury of eight men and four women that the State's case will be that Mr Dillon acted in concert with Mr Connolly in that they participated together in the assault by acting in common design. At the very least Mr Connolly was aided and abetted by Mr Dillon.

The trial continues before Judge Keenan Johnson.

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