Woman (22) acquitted of glass attack in north Dublin nightclub

Female victim lost sight in one eye in incident in Coolock

A 22-year-old woman has been acquitted of recklessly causing serious harm to another woman who lost the sight in one eye following an incident in a nightclub.

Emma Hammond from Poppintree, Ballymun, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to recklessly causing Natasha Mooney (25) serious harm at Dusk Nightclub in the Northside Shopping Centre, Coolock on March 18th, 2013.

The jury returned their verdict of not guilty on day four of the trial following one hour and 16 minutes deliberation.

Judge Desmond Hogan thanked the jury of six men and six women for their service.

Following the verdict, Garnet Orange SC, defending, said it had come to their attention that inflammatory remarks about his client had been made in the comments section of a website following an article based on normal reporting of the case. He said the website had been contacted and the comments facility withdrawn but it was something that must be a concern for the court and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Mr Orange said this facility to comment was capable of being abused. Judge Hogan asked it be brought to the attention of the DPP who could make their own assessment and take such action as they see fit.

Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, said she currently had no instructions in the matter and will liaise with the prosecuting garda so the matter can be advanced.

Gda Lisa Murray of Coolock Garda station said gardaí in Ballymun and other State services were aware of a feud between the families.

During interview the accused said a pair of shoes her older sister left in Ms Mooney’s house after a night out was said to be the reason for the falling out between the families.

The court heard Ms Mooney spoke to a friend of Ms Hammond in the smoking area of the club in the moments before the fight. CCTV footage was shown to the court which showed Ms Mooney putting her drink on the bar before approaching Ms Hammond.

The pair then engaged in a physical confrontation, grabbing each other by the hair and both landing a number of blows until a bouncer broke them up.

On exiting the nightclub, Ms Mooney said she got into a taxi and told the driver that she could not see herself in the mirror. The taxi took her to Beaumont Hospital, from where she was transferred to the Mater and operated on.

The consultant ophthalmic surgeon, Paul Connell, who operated on Ms Mooney on the night, gave testimony. He said he would categorise Ms Mooney's injury as "severe loss of vision in the eye".

Ms Mooney has undergone four surgeries since the incident and now has 10 per cent vision in the eye, Mr Connell said.

In the interview read to the court by prosecuting counsel Gerardine Small BL, Ms Hammond said she had never had a physical altercation with the complainant before but that she had got “hidings” from other people in relation to the families’ dispute.

In her closing statement, Ms Small asked the jury to consider the tensions in the nightclub and said “there is only one outcome, when a person with a glass hits out at another person, it is reckless”.

In his closing statement, defence counsel Garnet Orange SC, said there was no question of intention in Ms Hammond’s action and the jury was being asked to consider if her actions were reckless. Mr Orange said that there was not sufficient time for Ms Hammond to consider that the action she was taking was reckless. He said “it was a complete and very unfortunate accident”.