OAP attacked businessman after row over disabled parking

A businessman who attacked an elderly man after the latter complained that he was illegally parked in a disabled zone has been ordered to pay the victim 15,500 euros and court costs.

Gus O’Driscoll appeared in Letterkenny Circuit Civil Court after Frankie Doherty brought a personal injury case against his attacker, having sustained injuries.

O’Driscoll, owner of the well-known outdoor shop Wet n Wild in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, previously pleaded guilty to the attack on Mr Doherty at Letterkenny District Court in February 2013. The defendant was ordered to pay to Mr. Doherty €1,000 after the attack on May 4, 2012.

Gus O’Driscoll in the Letterkenny Circuit Court. (Northwest Newspix)

The district court heard that O’Driscoll claimed that he was only parked in the disabled space for a short time in Market Square in Letterkenny as he walked across the road to a bakery to buy his wife her favorite cake.

When he returned, Mr. Doherty pointed out that he was parked in a handicapped space and O’Driscoll got out of his jeep and pushed Mr. Doherty to the ground.

CCTV footage of the incident was played in Letterkenny Circuit Court as part of Mr Doherty’s claim against O’Driscoll.

The footage, which was verified by Donegal County Council employee Seán Flanagan, was played multiple times.

Assault victim Frankie Doherty. (Northwest Newspix)

Testifying before Judge Mary Morrissey, Mr Doherty admitted to approaching O’Driscoll’s jeep to protest with him.

He told O’Driscoll that it was ‘b*lloxes’ like him that prevented disabled people from being able to park in town.

Then he remembered O’Driscoll jumping out of his jeep and pushing him to the ground.

‘I was in shock. I got up and my arm and chest hurt. I was really shocked,” Mr Doherty said.

He called the gardaí, and the officers arrived about 15 minutes later and explained what had happened.

The court was later told that Mr Doherty’s wife was disabled.

Disabled parking space in Letterkenny Market Square. (Northwest Newspix)

Giving evidence, Garda Gerry Fee said he found Mr O’Driscoll through a partial registration plate number given to him and interviewed him in his shop.

In his statement, O’Driscoll, of Ballykeerin, Kilmacrennan, Co. Donegal, claimed that he had pushed the victim, but only after Doherty had spat at him, forcing him to lose control.

Answering questions from Doherty’s lawyer, Paul McLaughlin, who received instructions from Ciaran Haran of Kieran O’Gorman Solicitors, Garda Fee said they had seen the CCTV footage and saw no assault to justify what had happened and there was no evidence of any spitting.

He added that O’Driscoll was a “big, strong man” and that Doherty was lean and half the size of his attacker.

On his cross-examination, O’Driscoll, who represented himself in court, claimed that he had asked Garda Fee to see the spit on his car window, but the officer refused.

A taxi driver who was also parked nearby, Noel Doherty, told the court that he heard screaming and looked across the street and saw O’Driscoll pushing Mr Doherty to the ground.

In summary, Mr McLaughlin, Mr Doherty’s lawyer, referred to CCTV and everything it showed and said there was clearly no evidence of spitting before O’Driscoll pushed his client “in a forceful manner” (Image: Getty)

He also said that he did not see Mr Doherty spitting on O’Driscoll as the former had claimed.

The court was told that shortly after the May 4 attack, Mr Doherty telephoned his brother-in-law, Dr James McDaid, seeking medical advice.

Dr McDaid said he told Mr Doherty to take some painkillers, but three days later Mr Doherty told him again that he was still in a lot of pain. The doctor referred him to an orthopedic surgeon for examination and it was discovered after an X-ray that Mr Doherty had a broken rib.

Dr. McDaid said that when he saw Mr. Doherty he was in a lot of pain and had had a bad weekend.

Judge Morrissey asked O’Driscoll if he would call any witnesses, but he said he would not.

In summary, Mr McLaughlin, Mr Doherty’s lawyer, referred to CCTV and all it showed and said there was clearly no evidence of spitting before O’Driscoll pushed his client “in a forceful manner”.

Photo: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

He added that at no time did Mr. Doherty leave the sidewalk, that he kept his hands in his pockets at all times and never protested when he was pushed.

“The evidence is absolutely clear and there is no defense,” he added.

In his summary, O’Driscoll admitted that he parked in the disabled zone and that he pleaded guilty to assault and paid Mr Doherty €1,000.

However, he added that he stood by his position of self-defence, saying he felt “let down” by the gardaí and the state because they did not check the window of his jeep.

In delivering his judgement, Justice Morrissey said this was a “very sad case” that had been perfectly preventable but was confirmed on CCTV footage.

He added that he had no doubt that the incident occurred in the manner described as alleged.

She referred to both the Garda Fee evidence and the medical evidence provided by Dr McDaid, and said she was satisfied based on the evidence that the incident occurred and injuries sustained.

He added that O’Driscoll said he was sorry and pleaded guilty, but added that he had a chance to leave but it exacerbated the situation.

It awarded Mr. Doherty the sum of €12,500 for damages and another €3,000 for the psychological damage and stress caused.

Mr. Doherty was also awarded court costs in the case.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *