Extra charges for harassment and assault have been brought against a top criminal defence solicitor facing trial for attacking and injuring a former colleague in Dublin.
Cahir O’Higgins, 46, whose practice is based at Dublin’s Parkgate Street, was charged earlier with assault causing harm to solicitor Stephen O’Mahony who suffered a facial injury in an incident at Wolfe Tone Quay, Dublin on February 11th last.
The offence is contrary to section three of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.
He was granted €300 bail at Dublin District Court on February 20th and had made no reply when gardai charged him.
The DPP has directed “trial on indictment” and the case was adjourned until today, when Judge Conal Gibbons heard three additional charges had been brought against Mr O’Higgins.
One of them was for harassing Mr O’Mahony from June 25th, 2020 until February 11th this year.
He also had two new charges for minor assaults on Mr O’Mahony at the Criminal Courts of Justice Building on January 15th and December 14th last.
Detective Garda Niall Cadden told the judge that Mr O’Higgins had read out a one and a half page reply after he was charged and cautioned this morning.
Detective Garda Cadden had a copy and offered to hand it into court.
“There is no rule that says it can be a line or a hundred lines,” Judge Gibbons remarked.
He agreed with defence solicitor Donal Quigley that the normal procedure would be to read it out in court, and he also kept a copy on file.
Judge Gibbons urged the journalists in court to use caution in reporting the full reply as the matters before the court may go before a jury.
The court was told that in part of his response to the harassment charge, Mr O’Higgins said: "You are charging me with harassment to create a misleading narrative of something sinister, unsavoury and malicious, when it is nothing of the sort. This was a commercial dispute and one punch in the most exhausting of circumstances, not harassment.”
He also described how the complainant had been a trusted friend and employee.
In reply to the minor assault charges, Mr O’Higgins told the detective “vile” things had been said to him that triggered a reaction, and he believed he was going to be assaulted.
'I was defending myself'
He told the detective: “I was defending myself and had reason to believe it was necessary to do so” and the injury to the complainant's nose was “completely unintentional”.
A State solicitor said the DPP has also directed trial on indictment in relation to the harassment charge as well as the assault causing harm offence. The two minor assault charges would be added to the indictment.
Mr O'Higgins sat in the dock during the hearing and remained silent during the proceedings.
Judge Gibbons ordered him to appear again at the district court on July 2th next. It is expected prosecutors will then serve a book of evidence on him, and he will be returned for trial to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
In 2017, Mr O’Higgins was the highest paid legal aid solicitor in the country and over the past decade has been among the top earners from the scheme.
Mr O’Mahony had worked at the defendant’s firm for several years until 2020, when he established his own practice in Dublin, with offices on Camden Street.