Ashling Thompson pleads guilty to a second assault

Ashling Thompson pleads guilty to a second assault
Ashling Thompson arriving at the district court on Anglesea Street this morning. Picture Dan Linehan

GAA All-Star camogie player Ashling Thompson pleaded guilty today to assaulting a second woman at a nightclub in Cork.

Ms Thompson previously pleaded guilty to assaulting another woman at the same premises on the same night.

No details of the second assault were given in Cork District Court today as Judge John King said the second case should go back to next week for Judge Con O’Leary to deal with this count as he was already dealing with the first count.

Ashling Thompson indicated through her solicitor, Eddie Burke, today that she was pleading guilty to assaulting another young woman, Aoife O’Flaherty, at the same time and place, namely February 25, 2018, at Secret Garden, Rearden’s, Washington Street, Cork.

Inspector Jason Lynch said that a victim impact statement had been prepared by Ms O’Flaherty yesterday. Mr Burke said that there was an element of hearsay evidence in Ms O’Flaherty’s statement which should be redacted before it was presented. Inspector Lynch agreed that was appropriate.

However, by the time the redacted statement was presented, it emerged that there was no victim impact statement from the first injured party which would have enabled Judge King to deal with both cases. Insp. Lynch said this complainant, Jennifer Coakley, had given Judge O’Leary oral evidence and there was no written victim statement.

Ms Coakley previous testified that Ashling Thompson injured her by elbowing her into the jaw. She said she had come home to Cork from Abu Dhabi where she rides horses for the royal family. Ms Coakley said she had a suspected hairline fracture to her jaw but did not follow up with medical attention as she had travelled to Abu Dhabi.

Inspector James Hallahan summarised what happened at 2.44am that morning in the nightclub.

“The defendant was speaking with a male. Jennifer Coakley was standing nearby and she began speaking to the male. She (Thompson) struck out with her right elbow and contacted her face doing damage to same – it was superficial,” Insp. Hallahan said.

Judge O’Leary said to the injured party: “The evidence is that you were not minding your own business and that you started talking to the man.” 

Ms Coakley replied that she knew the man and that they were all in one group but that she did not know Ms Thompson before this.

Solicitor, Mr Burke said there were a number of complications in the background precluding the possibility of Ms Thompson being given an adult caution at a garda station rather than being prosecuted for assault. He said one complication was the initial charge for assault causing harm – which was withdrawn by the state.

Judge King said today: "It is inappropriate for me to deal with one in the absence of the other. I have no victim impact statement for Ms Coakley. I don’t have enough detail to deal with the first case. I will put it back to June 25 for Judge O’Leary.”

Mr Burke said: “This lady has no previous convictions.” 

Mr Burke previously submitted that a big factor in proceedings against Ms Thompson was extensive media coverage of the case. The solicitor suggested that “the glaring eye of the media” had an influence on the initial prosecution for a more serious assault charge which the Director of Public Prosecutions eventually withdrew.

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