Jury instructed to acquit man accused of hitting fellow worker with shovel

Defendant had told court he had hit the complainant with his fist in an effort to defend his father

A Meath man who admitted hitting a complainant in a row has been acquitted of assault causing serious harm after a legal ruling by the trial judge.

Mark Lynch (37) of Easton House, Carranstown, Duleek had pleaded not guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Jason Finnegan by striking him with a shovel at Tobergregan, Garristown, north Dublin on June 9th, 2017. The charge alleged that as a result of this strike, the complainant fell to the ground and sustained head injuries.

A jury was empanelled at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last week and evidence was presented. A jury heard that in his statement, Mr Finnegan said he and Mr Lynch and Ernie Lynch, the defendant’s father, were working together on a building site.

The court heard that the men were working on tarmacing a driveway in Garristown when there was a disagreement. The complainant told gardaí that Mr Lynch hit him with a shovel.

He said he fell down and was kicked in the stomach and that a shovel was then swung down on to his head. He said he didn’t remember anything after that.

Mr Lynch said he saw Mr Finnegan raising his fist and that he struck Mr Finnegan with his fist in order to defend his own father.

After a legal application from Mr Lynch’s defending counsel, Michael O’Higgins SC, Judge Pauline Codd ruled that the jury could not safely conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Lynch struck the complainant with a shovel.

She said that in order to convict Mr Lynch, the jury had to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that he used a shovel and that he intended to cause injury or was reckless.

She noted Mr Lynch’s defence was that he hit the complainant with his fist to defend his father.

She thanked jurors for their service in what was a difficult and, at times, harrowing case. She said she was directing the jury to find the defendant not guilty.