A former Dublin football All Star has been cleared of assaulting another former GAA player who claimed he had been intimidated and threatened by him in a pub.
Eamonn Heery, 53, pleaded not guilty to assaulting Shane Dalton at Kavanagh's pub, on the Malahide Road, Dublin 3, on January 6th last year.
The charge was contrary to Section Two of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act which can carry a sentence of up to six-months and a fine. The prosecution did not allege the assault was physical but that Mr Dalton feared he would be attacked following an exchange between the two men some of which Mr Dalton recorded on his phone.
Mr Heery, with an address at Foyle Road, Fairview, Dublin 3, did not have to give evidence during his trial at Dublin District Court.
Judge John Cheatle said that while Mr Heery made a potentially homophobic comment and his behaviour was unpleasant there was no assault.
Heery, now a director of an engineering firm, was awarded an All Star for his performance with Dublin in 1992 and has five Leinster senior football championship medals. The former half back also won an All-Ireland minor football championship medal with Dublin in 1982.
The complainant Shane Dalton told Judge Cheatle that he had been in Kavanagh’s pub at about 9.30pm and he rang a friend to come down because Mr Heery was in the bar and that made him feel intimidated.
He said he knew him from being involved with St Vincent’s GAA club and they had played together for Dublin. He alleged that there was an exchange of words when Mr Heery went to the bar to get a drink.
He claimed Mr Heery told him he would “get me or kill me” and “it was only matter of time before he gets me”.
He said he froze and replied “I’m not afraid of you Eamonn, he replied ‘you are afraid of me’.”
He said he felt intimidated and he leaned back and put his arms up in case something might happen. He said there was anger in Mr Heery’s eyes and “I thought he might glass me or do something that might be aggressive”. He switched on the recorder on his mobile phone in case something might happen.
He said 20 minutes later Mr Heery and his family were about to leave Mr Heery approached him and made more comments.
The court heard these related to an incident in May 2015 when Mr Dalton chase a youth out of St Vincent’s GAA ground after he was allegedly verbally abused and gardaí were called. Mr Dalton claimed Mr Heery said that if he did not get him the youth would, and he was in shock.
He said Mr Heery and his family then left the pub. He said he was intimidated and thought he might be attacked.
Defence counsel Keith Spencer (with solicitor Michael French) put it to him that there had been an unrecorded part of the conversation in which Mr Dalton had told Mr Heery that he would get the youth next time in reference to the earlier chase incident.
Mr Dalton denied saying that.
Counsel put it to him that his client had not said he would get him if he chased the youth again but the youth would get him himself. Mr Dalton disagreed.
However, agreed that there was no effort to strike or lunge at him.
The audio recording from his phone was played in court. Judge Cheatle said he heard Mr Heery say, “you won’t even know what hit you” while the defence contended he said “don’t even know what happened to you”.
Judge Cheatle said that he heard him call Mr Dalton a lonely queer c**t before telling him “God bless”.
In the final clip he said that Heery, who was aware he was being recorded, had told the man that if he chased the youth again it would be the youth that would get him and he called him “a f**king c**t”.
Judge John Cheatle held that Mr Heery had not said he would get Mr Dalton.
He said Mr Heery made unpleasant and potentially homophobic remarks that did him no credit. He said that, however unpleasant his behaviour it did not amount to assault and he dismissed the case.