26 May 2022

Offaly assault trial hears man wearing boxer shorts ran down alley after two women

Tullamore Circuit courtroom

Trial took place at Tullamore Circuit Court

THE jury in the trial of a man accused of breaking a woman's jaw in a Birr alleyway was considering a verdict yesterday afternoon (Thursday, May 12).

Rafal Replin (36), Killeen, Riverstown, Birr, who was assisted at Tullamore Circuit Court by a Polish language interpreter, denies assaulting Danielle Moten, causing her harm, at Main Street, Birr on September 16, 2019.

The prosecution was conducted by Kevin White, BL, (instructed by Sandra Mahon, Offaly state solicitor) and Mr Replin was defended by Stephen Byrne, BL, (instructed by Donal Farrelly, solicitor).

On Wednesday Ms Moten, a resident of Scurragh, Birr, gave evidence of being punched several times by Mr Replin in an alleyway off Main Street in the early hours of the morning.

Prior to the incident she had accompanied her friend and aunt of her children, Celina Hehir, to Mr Replin's apartment above an organic shop on Main Street beside Super Valu.

At 1.30 or 2am, Ms Hehir, who had a relationship with Mr Replin and twins by him, had asked Ms Moten to go with her because she wanted to retrieve her phone from the accused man.

When they got there Mr Replin was intoxicated and angry and both women thought he had a knife behind his back but neither of them saw a knife.

The jury heard that Mr Replin shouted “Get out” from the top of the stairs and after both women left there was shouting back and forth when the defendant was inside at a window.

Ms Moten said Mr Replin shouted “Suck my d...” at her, to which Ms Moten responded: “I wouldn't touch your dick, you're disgusting”.

Ms Moten said Mr Replin then shouted: “You wait, I come to you” and Ms Hehir then said “Danielle, run”.

They both ran down the street and turned into an alleyway and were followed by Mr Replin who was still in his boxer shorts and tee-shirt.

The jury heard Ms Moten say that she was behind the other woman and the accused was catching up with her so she stopped and looked around.

He slipped and fell into her and then when she was on her back he was punching her and banging her head off the ground.

Ms Moten said Ms Hehir returned and pulled Mr Replin off her, resulting in a scuffle and Ms Hehir being beaten.

Ms Moten said when the attack ended Mr Replin went away and she and Ms Hehir walked back home.

Ms Moten at first suspected she had broken teeth but later realised her jaw was broken. She rang the gardai first and then an ambulance.

An x-ray at Tullamore hospital confirmed she had a broken jaw and there was bruising on her chest and arm and a bump on her head.

She had to be transferred to St James's hospital where a plate and screws were inserted in her left jaw.

The trial also heard Ms Moten say that about a month later she handed gardai the jacket she was wearing on the night, saying when she found it in her press she noticed it had cuts in it.

She said the jacket was her ex-partner's and she had just put it on that night when Ms Hehir called to her late.

She denied that she was wearing a different jacket at the time, branded Ellesse, saying that though she had one of those, she did not receive it until some time after September 19.

She also denied being in Ms Hehir's house the evening before the incident and having dinner and wine there.

On Thursday morning the trial heard evidence from a Polish-speaking guard based in Portlaoise, Garda Sebastian Pychynski.

Garda Pychynski said he had translated text messages dated September 16 which were on Celina Hehir's phone but involved communication between Mr Replin and another Polish man, Richard Silak, who was Ms Moten's partner at the time.

Both Garda Pychynski and another Polish translator said that in an initial message a man said: “They came to my house” in the morning and that he was drunk and got angry.

He said he caught up on the women and they fell to the ground but he did not beat a woman.

The man replying indicated that he had been told the other man had his knee on Danielle's neck and had been hitting her into the jaw. The text added that she was “in Tullamore” and he would be “in your place already” but the guards would knock on his door first.

The reply to that asked if the other man wanted Danielle to be in trouble for her “attack” on his house or could they make a deal.

The trial heard from Garda Laurence O'Gorman that he tried to retrieve CCTV from three buildings but in one case the quality was not good, there was an issue with getting footage from another, and a third was a long way away.

Garda O'Gorman said Celina Hehir had refused to help the investigation, saying that on a previous occasion gardai had not helped her.

The guard said Mr Replin was arrested and was interviewed on January 21, 2020. He said he knew Ms Moten and described her as “family”. He did not like her partner Richard Silak and he knew Danielle for six years.

In his statement he said Danielle had been with himself and Celina the day before the incident, having called in with two bottles of wine, one for Mr Replin and Ms Hehir, and one for himself.

He explained that he had Celina's phone that night because she had dropped his and broken the screen and he needed a phone to wake up.

He checked her phone and found a message on it, a “love story” from another man and he got jealous and upset.

When Celina and Danielle called to him he just wanted sleep and when he said “get out” Danielle started shouting at him. Celina was really quiet and “made no problem” and asked him for her phone but he said he wanted to check it more.

He said Danielle then called him “bad words” and after he had calmed down he looked out the window and saw they were still there so he said “F... off to home”.
He said Danielle was shouting loudly like a mad woman and he went down in boxers and tee-shirt to ask what she wanted him for.

Asked by the garda about the incident in the alleyway, Mr Replin said when he ran towards Ms Moten he fell down on her and her face hit the concrete.

He fell on top of her and she had her hand on her cheek and she then tried to attack him and “waved her hands crazy”. He caught her hands and tried to calm her and talk to her.

She then had her hand on her face and just went home and he said “What the f...” and went home too.

He said Celina had “disappeared” at the time and stated he was not a violent man and did not get into fights after drinking.

Though he had a knife in the kitchen earlier when he was cleaning, he did not bring it with him down the alleyway.

He denied punching Ms Moten like a boxer but said that maybe he touched her face when he was trying to calm her.

He denied banging her head and causing slashes on her jacket, saying there was a lot of broken glass on the ground where she fell.

The last witness in the trial was Celina Hehir. She was called by the defence and said she had come to court by her own free will.

Ms Hehir said she had been in a relationship with Mr Replin for six years and they had been split for the last two.

She said Ms Moten had been in a relationship with her brother for 14 years and was “family basically” and she had known her all her life.

Ms Hehir said Rafal had been in her house on the Sunday afternoon before the incident and Danielle called and they had a couple of glasses of wine.

She woke up later and realised her phone wasn't there and went to Rafal's apartment with Danielle to get it.

After he refused to give her the phone Danielle and Rafal were shouting and cursing at each other and Rafal said to Ms Moten: “Tomorrow I go to Richie and tell him how you suck my d...” to which Ms Moten replied: “Yeah, and I'll tell everyone about your banana c...”

After hearing Mr Replin saying “Two seconds” she said to Danielle “Run” and she ran herself because she knew he was angry and she was afraid. She had not seen Mr Replin like that before and thought he wasn't himself.

In the alley she saw him pulling at Ms Moten's jacket, saw the two of them falling and she came running back up straight away.

She was at the bottom of the alleyway but because she was very athletic from previously doing sports it only took her three to five seconds.

She said Rafal was on top of Ms Moten pulling at her jacket and saying “What the f... are you saying?” and he then got up and walked off.

Ms Hehir said that if there was a scuffle it was her pulling Rafal off Danielle and she herself had not been beaten or assaulted by him in any way.

She also didn't see him pulling Ms Moten's hair, punching her into the face, or her head being pushed into the concrete.

When Mr Byrne asked why she had not given the gardai a statement, Ms Hehir said it was because she considered Danielle “family” and she thought they would be able to sort it out without needing to go to the guards.

Replying to Mr White, Ms Hehir agreed that she had not given a statement in support of Mr Replin either.

She said that during the encounter outside the apartment Mr Replin had not called her “a slut” and she did not think he was upset about the “love story” messages he had seen on her phone. She said she was not “off with another fellow”.

Asked by Mr White about what happened in the alleyway, she said she saw Mr Replin shaking Ms Moten and saying “What are you saying now?” and though he was pulling her really hard by the jacket, he was not banging her head.

Ms Moten was on her back and he was on top of her with his knees either side of her.

The jury began its deliberations after hearing addresses from Mr White and Mr Byrne and the charge from Judge Keenan Johnson.

Judge Johnson said it was a matter for the jury, but he thought Ms Moten was a very credible and good witness and the jurors would have to ask themselves if the injuries she sustained were accidental or inflicted on her by Mr Replin.

The jury had not reached a verdict by 5.10pm and were scheduled to return to the court on Friday morning.

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