Cork GAA star pleads guilty to nightclub assault

Cork GAA star pleads guilty to nightclub assault
Ashling Thompson outside Cork District Court today. Pic: Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts

GAA All-Star Camogie player Ashling Thompson admitted today that she assaulted another young woman at a nightclub by elbowing her into the jaw.

The victim came home to Cork from Abu Dhabi where she rides horses for the royal family. Jennifer Coakley said yesterday she had a suspected hairline fracture to her jaw but did not follow up with medical attention as she had travelled to Abu Dhabi.

The case against Thompson had been listed for hearing at Cork District Court yesterday but Eddie Burke, defence solicitor, said the accused was pleading guilty to the charge of assaulting Jennifer Coakley, contrary to Section 2 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act on February 25, 2018, at Secret Garden, Rearden’s, Washington Street.

Jennifer Coakley outside the district court. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts
Jennifer Coakley outside the district court. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts

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 Con O’Leary asked the injured party to come forward and he asked her if she disagreed with anything in the inspector’s summary and she said she did not disagree.

Asked how it affected her she said: “Mostly in the fact that I had to come all the way back from Abu Dhabi. I was about to go to Singapore with my other half.

“It was a huge impact having to take the time out. I don’t know the person. I did not know her beforehand. It was not pleasant when someone comes up and attacks you when you are minding your own business on your last night out in Cork.” 

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.

She said she sustained a hairline fracture to her jaw which still caused her problems. She added that not following up on medical treatment was her own fault.

Judge O’Leary asked her what she did in Abu Dhabi. She replied: “I currently ride horses for the royal family over there.” 

Defence solicitor, Eddie 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.

Insp. Hallahan said she also had a previous drink driving conviction. Mr Burke said that would be considered to be a spent conviction as it was more than seven years old.

Mr Burke said: “The media got hold of things. I think the glaring eye of the media had an influence on it (the initial prosecution for a more serious assault charge). Unfortunately, that is the case.” 

Judge O’Leary put sentencing back to June 18 when another case is listed for hearing where Ashling Thompson is accused of assaulting another young woman, Aoife O'Flaherty, at the same time and place.

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