19 May 2022

Woman tells Offaly trial attack in alley left her with broken jaw

Tullamore courthouse

Man on trial at Tullamore Circuit Court accused of assaulting woman in Birr

A MAN has denied a charge of assaulting a woman in a Birr alley which resulted in her sustaining a broken jaw.

Rafal Replin (36), Killeen, Riverstown, Birr, went on trial at Tullamore Circuit Court on Wednesday following his not guilty plea to the single charge of assaulting Danielle Moten, causing her harm, at Main Street, Birr on September 16, 2019.

Proceedings before a jury of five women and seven men and Judge Keenan Johnson are being translated for Mr Replin by a Polish language interpreter.

The jury heard from Ms Moten, a mother of three, that in the early hours of September 16 Celina Hehir, a sister of Ms Moten's partner at the time, called to her house in Scurragh, Birr.

Ms Moten said Ms Hehir wanted to go to her ex-partner's residence because she had left her phone there.

Ms Moten added that the other woman wanted her to walk with her to the apartment above an organic shop on Main Street beside Super Valu.

They arrived at his door and though she had a key, Ms Hehir did not need to use it because the door opened.

She could not find her phone on the floor downstairs and both women walked up the stairs to find that Mr Replin was standing waiting for them.

Ms Moten said that when Ms Hehir approached the man and looked behind him she saw that he had a knife.

Ms Moten said he was standing with his head down and his hands behind his back and she did not see a knife.

She told Kevin White, BL, prosecuting (instructed by Sandra Mahon, Offaly state solicitor) that she thought Mr Replin was very intoxicated and was angry and he shouted “Get out” at her from the top of the stairs.

She could see beer cans and bottles and she added that she didn't think it was “just alcohol”.

Ms Hehir had already gone downstairs and when Ms Moten went down the accused, who was at a window, and the other woman, were shouting things at each other.

Ms Moten said Mr Replin shouted “Suck my d...” at her, to which the witness 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”.

Ms Hehir went running and Ms Moten followed after standing for a second and she could hear the accused running behind her.

She took a left and ran down an alley way, running in the same direction as Celina. Ms Moten said she stopped because she could not outrun the man and turned around to face him because she thought he had a knife.

When Mr Replin was running towards her he knocked her off her feet onto her backside and was then on top of her, swinging at her.

Meanwhile, Ms Hehir had returned from the end of the alley way and ended up getting into a scuffle with Mr Replin when she was trying to pull him off the other woman.

Ms Moten said that when she was screaming for help Mr Replin was mimicking her, saying “Help, help, nobody help you” and he punched her in the face several times on the left side.

When Celina managed to get him off he began beating her and he then grabbed Ms Moten by her hood and put his knee on her neck and repeatedly punched her.

She said he was calling her a “ slut” as he punched her and when he stopped doing that he banged her head off the ground.

Asked what Mr Replin was wearing, Ms Moten said he had a pair of boxer shorts on, a tee-shirt, one full sock and one half sock.

Asked how long the attack lasted, she replied: “It felt like forever. I thought I was going to die.”

She said she didn't fight back or say a word because she knew it would make him worse.

When he stopped he walked away back down the alley way and as Ms Moten left at the other end she thought that her teeth were shattered but then realised that it was not her teeth she could feel, but her broken jawbone.

Both women went to Ms Moten's house where Ms Hehir asked for Danielle's phone so she could use it to disable her Facebook and social media but she was unable to do so.

Ms Hehir then left and Ms Moten rang the gardai. Ms Moten said she had a bump on her head and suspected her jaw was broken and after trying to go to sleep she decided to call an ambulance because of the pain and was brought to Tullamore hospital where an x-ray revealed a very significant fracture of her jaw.

She was transferred to St James's hospital and subsequently had surgery involving the insertion of a plate and screws.

Photographs Ms Moten took of her injuries were produced to the jury.

Ms Moten said she later found messages in Polish on her phone which were sent to her Facebook messenger from Ms Hehir's Facebook messenger. That message was printed out and given to the investigating guard, Garda Larry O'Gorman.

Ms Moten said she also handed gardai the jacket she was wearing on the night, saying when she found it in her press about a month later 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.

That completed Ms Moten's direct evidence and she was then cross-examined by Stephen Byrne, BL, defending (instructed by Donal Farrelly, solicitor).

Mr Byrne focussed on the evidence about the jacket and asked Ms Moten if it was an Ellesse brand she was wearing on the night of the incident, and said he was puzzled that she had not brought the jacket to the attention of the gardai earlier.

Ms Moten said she was not wearing an Ellesse jacket and had only noticed the cuts in the jacket she was wearing at the time of the incident when her husband put it on about a month later.

Pressed by Mr Byrne on what she thought caused the tear in the jacket, Ms Moten said she believed it was caused by a weapon the accused man had.

She said she was under the impression the man had a knife because that is what she had been told but she did not see a knife.

In further cross-examination, Ms Moten was asked what she would say if Ms Hehir said they had dinner together in Ms Hehir's house the evening before the incident.

Ms Moten said that would be “lies”, that she was not in Ms Hehir's house that day, she had not drunk any alcohol herself and as far as she knew, Ms Hehir had been in Mr Replin's apartment that day.

She described as “lies” a statement from Mr Byrne that she and Ms Hehir had shared a bottle of wine.

Asked how well she knew Mr Replin, Ms Moten said she only knew him to say “Hello, how are you?” to him.

She said she had spent that day in her own house and estimated it was 1.30am or 2am “give or take” when Ms Hehir called to her.

Mr Byrne then turned to the incident itself and Ms Moten denied being verbally abusive to Mr Replin, saying it was he who had said to her, “Suck my d..., bitch” and “You wait, I come to you”.

Ms Moten broke down in the witness box briefly when she described how Mr Replin had punched her and banged her head off the ground.

Mr Byrne put it to her that she had fallen when Mr Replin collided with her when he was coming up the alley way. She denied that, saying that he had slipped and then caused her to fall, but he then got up and started beating her.

The trial is continuing on Thursday morning.

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