Cashel Courthouse where the case was heard
A 38-year-old Cashel hairdresser was convicted at Cashel Court of assaulting a woman at her mother’s house at the end of a night out following the All-Ireland Final two years ago.
Patricia Price of 7 Greenfields, Cashel pleaded not guilty at the court sitting to assaulting Sandra Walsh at 4 Upper Friar Street, Cashel on August 18, 2019.
Both women gave differing accounts of the events of that night but after hearing both sides, Judge John O’Leary concluded he was satisfied Ms Walsh’s evidence was more convincing and convicted and fined Ms Price €250.
Ms Walsh told the court she went out with her friend Hannah Price to watch the All-Ireland Final at McCarthy’s Bar on August 18, 2019 and went to Feehan’s in the evening. They met Hannah’s daughter Patricia in Feehan’s.
At the end of the night she went back to Hannah’s house and was sitting talking to her friend when her daughter came into the house. Patricia lit a cigarette and was asked not to smoke as her mother had chest problems and COPD. Ms Walsh said Patricia continued to “blow smoke in her mother’s face”.
“I asked her to put it out and to be respectful to her mam. It was put out in an ashtray,” said Ms Walsh.
In the incident that followed, Ms Walsh said Patricia Price threw a half bottle of wine at her, which missed her. She also threw a can of beer, which also missed her.
She described how Ms Price jumped on her from behind, grabbed her hair and pulled lumps of her hair out. She also banged her head on the floor.
Eventually, Ms Price’s partner Barry Hammond came in and managed to restrain Ms Price. Mr Hammond told her (Ms Walsh) to go upstairs so he could take Ms Price away from the house.
Ms Walsh said she had to take time off work after the incident because she was so sick and stressed. She suffered a panic attack in Aldi. Her scalp was sore and bruised and her ribs were sore for about four weeks. She couldn't change the gears in her car and found it difficult to move. She also said she “went into herself” after the incident and wouldn’t even walk down the street.
Ms Walsh denied there was an historic issue between her and Ms Price.
Defence solicitor Colin Morrissey put it to her that they fell out over Ms Walsh cancelling hair appointments at late notice. He showed her text messages relating to this from 2017. He put it to her that she fabricated the assault because of this underlying issue and words exchanged with his client on the night. Ms Walsh strongly denied this was the case.
Ms Walsh replied “no” when asked by Insp. Mark Allen whether she had sent any texts to Ms Price since 2017. She said she hadn’t any other relationship with Ms Price apart from the fact Ms Price used to do her hair.
Garda Michael Tynan said Ms Walsh reported the incident to gardaí and she made a statement of complaint. He approached Ms Price and afforded her an opportunity to provide a cautioned statement. She didn’t provide a statement. Hannah Price also failed to provide a witness statement. She didn’t want to get involved as she knew both parties.
Patricia Price told the court she went to Feehan’s Bar with a friend sometime after 9pm that night.
At closing time, Ms Price said her mother invited her and her friend up to have a few drinks. They all went up to her mother's house together.
Ms Price explained there were a lot of personal things going on in her family for a few years prior to this and she and her mother were hashing things out in the house. She said Sandra Walsh started to get involved in some pretty personal things.
“Words passed between us and it did get very nasty,” she told the court.
Ms Price said Ms Walsh started to say a few things that were very inappropriate. It was suggested that Sandra should go to bed and her mother said she should go home.
When asked did she assault Ms Walsh, Ms Price replied “that never happened”. The dispute was just verbal, she stressed.
She said she rang her partner Barry Hammond. Barry came and as she was gathering up her stuff to go, Sandra Walsh ran down the stairs and hit her in the side of her head. Barry got in the middle of the two of them and they went home.
In relation to not providing a statement to the gardaí, she explained she was unable to make it to meet Garda Tynan on the night she was scheduled to give the statement. She went to the garda station the next night but she got no answer at the door.
Under cross examination from Inspector Allen, Ms Price said when Sandra hit her, she went to hit her back but her partner got in the middle of the two of them.
Ms Price produced Whats App text messages she received from Sandra Walsh in 2017 relating to the issue they had in the salon with her cancelling appointments at late notice.
Barry Hammond told the court Patricia phoned him and asked him to pick her up. When he arrived Hannah and Patricia were in the kitchen. He went through the kitchen door and Sandra Walsh came running in. He didn’t know what had gone on previously. He stood in the middle of the two of them.
“It was women having a go at each other,” he explained. He described how there were arms flying about, pulling of hair and scratching.
When asked did he tell Ms Walsh to go upstairs, Mr Hammond replied that he couldn’t remember but he believed he probably did to diffuse the situation. They were all drunk in the house, he said. He couldn’t remember seeing anything broken in the house. Patricia got into the car with him and they went home.
Mr Morrissey argued the prosecution hadn’t proven beyond reasonable doubt that his client assaulted Ms Walsh. The court heard two extremely different versions of what occurred and he submitted that Mr Hammond corroborated the evidence of his client while corroborating evidence was absent in the prosecution’s case.
Insp Allen, however, argued that Mr Hammond’s evidence of seeing arms flying about and hair pulling was consistent with Ms Walsh’s evidence.
He argued the text messages dating from 2017 highlighted by the defence bore very little relevance to this incident. “What appeared to have sparked the matter was a family discussion that happened on the night. For some reason or other Ms Walsh was on the physical end of an assault,” he concluded.
Judge O’Leary said there was no complaint of assault against Ms Walsh so he didn’t have to deal with that in this case. He concluded Ms Walsh gave a more convincing account than Ms Price and dismissed the defence’s evidence about texts messages from a number of years ago as “irrelevant.”
“I don't believe the incident on the night had anything to do with them,” he concluded.
Mr Morrissey interjected that Ms Price had a defence of self-defence but the Judge dismissed this as it wasn't brought up during the hearing of the case. “I am satisfied with the account of Ms Walsh and in those circumstances I will proceed to convict,” the Judge added.
In mitigation, he noted Ms Price hadn’t any previous convictions. “This was an unfortunate incident where personal matters were up for discussion, where there were a number of people at late hours of the evening with too much drink taken,” he said.
Judge O’Leary agreed to Mr Morrissey’s request to fix recognisance in the event of an appeal.
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