Ex-Cork camogie captain who assaulted two women told to pay €6,000 to avoid jail
Ashling Thompson, who pleaded guilty, must pay €6,000 to two charities and her victims
Former Cork camogie captain Ashling Thompson. Photograph: Cork Courts Limited.
Former Cork camogie captain Ashling Thompson has been warned that she could face jail for assaulting two women in a nightclub if she fails to honour an undertaking to pay €6,000 to charities and her victims.
The 29-year-old, of Shinnagh, Newtownshandrum, Charleville, pleaded guilty at Cork District Court to assaulting Jennifer Coakley (26) and Aoife O’Flaherty (23) at the Secret Garden, Washington Street in Cork on February 25th, 2018.
Judge Con O’Leary was told that Ms Thompson was approached by Ms Coakley as she was speaking to a man and when Ms Coakley spoke to the man, Ms Thompson struck her in the jaw with her elbow.
Ms Coakley had told the court that she suffered a hairline fracture of her jaw in the assault. She said that while she did not follow up in terms of medical treatment, it had an impact in that it forced her to delay a 12 month career break.
Insp Seán McCarthy on Tuesday gave details of the second assault, which happened some 90 minutes later when Ms Thompson struck Aoife O’Flaherty on the back of the head on the dance floor in the nightclub.
Defence solicitor Eddie Burke said Ms O’Flaherty did not seek medical help and although she had complained of pain in her neck, she did not appear to have suffered any long term consequences as she was able to go to a gym within days.
Mr Burke pleaded for leniency for his client, saying she had suffered hugely as a consequence of the publicity surrounding the assaults with the matter being publicised on social media long before she was ever charged.
He submitted a series of character references and said Ms Thompson’s sporting prowess, which saw her help Cork win three All-Ireland camogie titles, led to her securing a number of sponsorship deals which she used to support herself.
Mr Burke said she had lost all but one of these sponsorship deals as a result of the case and that deal was hanging in the balance as the sponsor was awaiting the outcome of the case.
Judge O’Leary said he did not question Ms Thompson’s sporting prowess but that none of the character references provided explained why she committed two assaults when drunk. People often got drunk and did not assault others, he said.
Mr Burke said his client had played a match against Offaly earlier that day and had not eaten when she went to the nightclub. She became intoxicated as she was not used to alcohol because of her sporting career, he said.
There was also “the issue of two ladies both looking for the attention of somebody else in the nightclub” and the assault on Ms O’Flaherty would not have happened if his client had been asked to leave after the first incident, he said.
Judge O’Leary accepted he might be out of touch with sporting matters and Ms Thompson’s profile, but said he was still taken aback to see so many members of the media in court. He said he had no doubt Ms Thompson had suffered humiliation as a result of the case as well as being the target of some unpleasant social media commentary.
In the circumstances, he was willing to adjourn the matter generally, which would allow Ms Thompson to avoid a conviction if she was willing to give an undertaking to the court to pay a total of €6,000 to a number of parties.
She agreed to pay €2,500 to Edel House Emergency Shelter for Women and Children, €2,000 to Ms Coakley for expenses, €1,000 to Cuanlee Women’s Refuge and €500 to Ms O’Flaherty for expenses by September 30th.
If she failed to pay the money by September 30th, the judge said the State had liberty to re-enter the matter and she would face a jail service.
“All her bridges are burnt if she fails to honour her undertaking and pay the money,” he said.