Tivoli audience members attacked with pepper spray, court told
Trial of man on alleged attack adjourned to consider legal arguments
Defence counsel Mr Nolan for Shane Carey argued that it would be unsafe to proceed with the trial as no identification parade was held following an incident which occurred in a partially lit setting. He also argued that there were discrepancies in the descriptions of the clothing of the alleged attacker. Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters
Chaos broke out at a children’s variety show at the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin following a suspected pepper-spray attack on audience members, a court has heard.
Performers with the Spotlight Kids, a group of 72 young people from Inchicore in Dublin, had staged a variety show, Fantasy Street, at the Tivoli in Francis Street for two nights as part of celebrations of the 10th anniversary of their stage school when an incident took place in the venue’s auditorium.
Dublin District Court heard that members of the audience and young performers had to be evacuated from the theatre after a substance was sprayed on some of the patrons.
Shane Carey (29), from Woodview Heights, Lucan, Dublin has admitted being at the theatre but has pleaded not guilty to assaulting two men and two women in connection with the incident on April 27th last.
Lisa Donohue, her husband Daragh Sandford, her sister Denise O’Byrne, and Ms O’Byrne’s husband Ronan O’Byrne told Dublin District Court that there was a vacant row of seats between them and a man who had a child on his lap.
Ms Donohue said he had been talking loudly throughout the first half of the show but she did not have any interaction with him because his party seemed intimidating.
She told Judge Michael Walsh that a substance was sprayed for a few seconds from over the right shoulder of the man whom she described as wearing a baseball cap, a blue hoodie top and having a light moustache. She said the effects of the spray came fast and left her with “burning to my face and to my throat”.
She was very shaken, began coughing and needed water so she then left the auditorium which was evacuated soon after. Her eyes also began to water, the court heard.
She agreed with defence counsel Emmett Nolan that the lighting was dim and said she did not recall any smoke machine was used in the theatre.
Her husband Daragh Sandford told the court the man had a grey and blue jacket and a small moustache. He said he leaned forward to hear the show and was an arm’s length from the man, whom he claimed sprayed him and his wife in the face with a substance for about five to 10 seconds.
He called security and later saw the same man go to the toilets in the venue. He also said he felt a burning sensation in his nose and later, when the show resumed, he rubbed his eyes they began to water up “like I was crying”.
Ronan O’Byrne told the court the man “sprayed us with a liquid spray”, his eyes began streaming and he also felt burning in his nose. His wife Denise O’Byrne, who had taught many of the young performers in the show, said that “it was like a feeling of choking” and there was an incredible burning sensation down my throat, in my eyes”.
The four witnesses agreed with Mr Nolan that they had not been asked to take part in a formal identification parade.
The court heard Garda Richard Moyston arrested Mr Carey and carried out a cursory search of him at the scene, but all that was found on him was a Nicorette spray for helping smokers to quit.
However, the court heard that, after he was taken in a Garda van to Kevin Street Garda station, a “dragon pepper-spray” canister was found in the “cage” section where prisoners are held in the van.
Under cross-examination, Garda Moyston agreed that when analysed by the Garda Forensic Laboratory, no residual traces of pepper-spray were found on items of clothing seized from Mr Carey.
Garda Kevin Houlihan told the court the pepper spray had not been in the van’s cage before Mr Carey was put there.
When interviewed, Mr Carey told gardaí he may have sprayed the people with the Nicorette spray by mistake. He also claimed he had been attacked in the Tivoli, the court heard.
Defence counsel argued it would be unsafe to proceed with the trial as no identification parade was held following an incident which occurred in a partially lit setting. He also argued there were discrepancies in the descriptions of the clothing of the alleged attacker.
Solicitor Tom Conlon, for the state, replied that ID parades are not mandatory, the evidence of prosecution witnesses was generally consistent and the finding of the pepper-spray in the Garda van following Mr Carey’s arrest was a significant factor.
Judge Walsh adjourned the trial, which will resume next week, to consider the legal arguments.