Former Republic of Ireland senior international footballer Anthony Stokes had his prosecution for headbutting a man in Dublin’s Temple Bar struck out on Monday due to the absence of a key witness.
The 33-year-old Dubliner, a former Celtic striker and Republic of Ireland star, had claimed he acted in self-defence.
He was accused of assault causing harm to Fraser Spratt at Fitzgerald’s pub on Aston Quay, in Dublin 2, on March 16th, 2019, which he denied.
The charge was under section three of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.
A lengthy adjournment was required for the hearing at Dublin District Court because the alleged injured party lived in the UK, the proceedings heard in 2020.
In March last year, Monday’s date was set for the contested non-jury hearing.
Stokes was present, however, Judge John Hughes heard that the witness was reluctant to travel over for the hearing, expected to last a day.
Defence solicitor Peter Corrigan of Belfast firm Phoenix Law submitted that the CCTV evidence was inadmissible, and there was no identification evidence in the case against his client.
Judge Hughes said he would not vacate the hearing and struck out the case.
Mr Stokes, who had an address at Wyckham Point, in Dundrum, Dublin 14, “made no reply to the charge”, the court heard on April 28th 2020.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has directed summary disposal, meaning the case should stay in the District Court and not go to the Circuit Court, which has tougher sentencing powers. Jurisdiction was accepted.
Garda Donal O’Neill outlined the prosecution evidence at an early stage in the case. He had said it was alleged Mr Stokes headbutted the complainant once, “knocking him to the ground”, causing him to lose consciousness temporarily.
However, the court was told that the man did not suffer lasting injuries. Stokes denied the allegation from the outset.
On the night in question, he had been at the bar with his girlfriend. His solicitor had told the court his client “says he acted at all times in self-defence, proportionately”.
In 2017, Stokes received a two year suspended sentence for headbutting Elvis impersonator Anthony Bradley, 53, at Buck Whaleys on Leeson Street, Dublin, on June 8th, 2013.