Woman’s eye ‘completely collapsed’ after Birr festival incident

Deliberations in trial of man accused of assaulting Canadian woman to begin shortly

The jury in the trial of a man accused of assaulting a tourist heard the woman’s eye was ‘completely collapsed’ after the incident.  Photograph: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland.

The jury in the trial of a man accused of assaulting a tourist heard the woman’s eye was ‘completely collapsed’ after the incident. Photograph: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland.


The jury in the trial of a man accused of assaulting a tourist heard the woman’s eye was “completely collapsed” after the incident.

Birr native and Canadian resident Marie Gauvin(59) had returned to her hometown on holidays when she was struck by glass during Birr Vintage Week last August.

An innocent bystander, Mrs Gauvin had been sheltering from rain in an archway where a disturbance had earlier broken out when the glass struck her.

A report from Prof Lorraine Cassidy of the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin was read in court. She found that “the eye was completely collapsed and not even recognisable as an eye.”

Describing the injury as horrendous, Prof Cassidy stated that Mrs Gauvin’s left eye is showing mild signs of problems unrelated to the incident. “There is a possibility when she is older that she may lose vision in her left eye making this injury more serious,” she said.

Gary Ward(20) of Scurragh, Birr has denied charges of assault causing harm, recklessly causing serious harm and production of an article at Keel’s Arch in Birr on August 4th, 2013.

His Garda interview transcripts were read to the jury of seven women and five men. In them he denied throwing a glass throughout six hours of Garda interviews on August 15th 2013.

Lead investigator Sgt Paul Cleary of Birr Garda Station read some of the interview transcripts taking following Mr Ward’s arrest on August 15th.

Although Sgt Cleary repeatedly asked Mr Ward had he thrown glass, the defendant insisted he “didn’t do it.” Mr Ward claimed Darragh Daly had looked for a fight and he admitted being involved in a scuffle with Mr Daly in Keel’s Arch on the night in question.

Mr Ward told gardaí, “I didn’t want any trouble.” He said Mr Daly had followed him into the archway. “I was basically attacked and I cant tell you why,” said Mr Ward.

When asked what he thought about someone throwing a glass in such a busy place he said, “it would be a stupid and dangerous thing to do.”

Mr Ward told gardaí that he has problems with his short term memory and couldn’t remember some details after the scuffle. He told gardaí he had suffered a bump to his head and ear during the altercation with Mr Daly.

Summing up, prosecution counsel Padraic Hogan acknowledged some witnesses had spoken of a bottle while others mentioned a glass. “There are inconsistencies in the prosecution case but the evidence by Samantha Daly is quite clear, and what she said was the aggressor in this case was Mr Gary Ward. ”

He said Ms Daly was also clear that Mr Ward had picked up what she believed to be a pint glass and threw it at her brother. “If you accept her evidence as being true and accurate, well it’s clear that Mr Gary Ward had picked up a pint glass and thrown it,” he remarked.

Mr Hogan mentioned the other witnesses, Denise Kelly, who saw an unidentified individual throw a bottle or glass and Breda Buckley who told the court she saw Mr Daly trying to avoid Mr Ward prior to seeing a glass bottle hit a wall and smash.

“It puts beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Gary Ward did throw either a glass or a bottle which smashed against a wall,” he argued. Mr Hogan questioned whether the defendant was even aware of what happened given his difficulties with memory.

He cited an interview transcript where Mr Ward denied throwing a glass and said “the lads told me I didn’t.” In relation to the transcript, Mr Hogan said, “he actually doesn’t know what happened according to this.”

In his closing speech, defence counsel John Shortt SC criticised the lack of evidence in the case. “There is one person and one person only who identifies, recognises and states that Mr Ward threw the glass. No one else of the prosecution witnesses say that Gary Ward threw the glass or bottle,” he remarked.

Speaking of Samantha Daly, he said, “she says Gary Ward picked up an empty pint glass and that he threw it at her brother and that it broke off her brother’s back.” The evidence, he maintained, was “irreconcilable” with that of Breda Buckley, who “is adamant that it was a bottle.” He asked how the glass “morphed” into a bottle.

Mr Shortt said Denise Kelly “she saw a bottle flying but she never mentions anything hitting Darragh Daly.” He recalled her saying it went above Mr Daly’s head and hit a wall. “The authorities felt they had their man and they didn’t need to do anything else,” he argued.

He told the jury that “two tragedies” had already happened in the case in that Mrs Gauvin lost the sight in her eye and the character of a “somewhat iconic” festival has had a dark shadow cast on it. He urged jurors not to compound the tragedy by making Mr Ward a scapegoat.

Judge Anthony Hunt told jurors “I don’t envy you your task in this case.” He said the while it mightn’t be a classic case depending on circumstantial evidence, “it has that flavour about it.”

Judge Hunt is due to finish charging the jury in the morning before they begin their deliberations.