Solicitor assaulted colleague, says judge


A JUDGE has found that a well known Limerick solicitor assaulted a colleague whom he attempted to head butt and grabbed by the throat outside a District Court last year.

However, John Devane (50), who has a practice at Quinlan Street in Limerick, will avoid a criminal conviction if he donates €1,000 to the St Vincent de Paul before the end of the month.

The criminal lawyer denied assaulting fellow Limerick solicitor John Herbert on June 9th, 2011, at Merchants Quay in Limerick.

After a lengthy hearing at Limerick District Court yesterday Judge Patrick Clyne found in favour of the State but said he would dismiss the case on its merit if Mr Devane makes the donation October 18th.

Judge Clyne said it was unfortunate there was a history between the two solicitors whom he said were practising and able lawyers. He said it was a “sad day this was before the court”.

Last week Mr Devane was acquitted of a separate charge of assaulting Mr Herbert in an incident alleged to have occurred 18 months ago following a row over what was referred to as “client poaching”.

In his evidence yesterday Mr Devane said the relationship between himself and Mr Herbert was “not an amicable one” but insisted he never assaulted his colleague.

Mr Herbert whose offices are at Arthur’s Quay in Limerick, said Mr Devane caught him by the throat after trying to head butt him outside courtroom four of Limerick District Court at about 2.30pm on June 9th, 2011.

He also claimed Mr Devane had threatened him inside the court saying: “I will have you done. I will see to it”.

A former university heavyweight boxing champion Mr Herbert denied he pushed Mr Devane and dismissed the claim as “preposterous and a lie”.

He rejected a suggestion by defence counsel Keith Spencer that his “boxing instincts kicked in” when he swiped Mr Devane’s hand away.

Insisting he kept his hands in his pockets at all times. Mr Herbert told the court “another feature of boxing and probably the most important one is discipline”.

A witness Paul O’Dwyer said he saw Mr Devane standing outside the court face to face with Mr Herbert looking “quite irate”.

He claimed Mr Devane said “who do you think you are? You won’t be bullying me like you did last week”. The witness said he saw Mr Devane tap the other solicitor in the face with his head and that he saw him put his hand up to Mr Herbert’s throat.

He also claimed Mr Herbert said “go on” to which Mr Devane replied “I’d love to”.

In his evidence Mr Devane claimed Mr Herbert had pushed him out the door of the court room. He said he had offered Mr Herbert a handshake as a sign of reconciliation but Mr Herbert told him to go “f**k himself”.

Judge Clyne said there was a history and a background to the case which was “unfortunate and sad” but which he was not adjudicating on.

He said he was satisfied an incident had occurred and that fortunately the District Court still had the facility of not proceeding to a conviction in certain circumstances. The matter was adjourned until October 18th.