Snapchat ‘calm the ham’ comment led to Carndonagh assault

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A Moville woman has been convicted of assault after she took offence at being told to ‘Calm the ham’ on ‘Snapchat.’

Ruth McKinley, with an address at 7. Manor Court, Moville but who, the court was told, now lives in Culdaff, pleaded not guilty at a special sitting of Buncrana District Court to assaulting Edel Doherty at Tul na Ri, Carndonagh on 10th August, 2014.

Ms Doherty told the court McKinley (22) has previously connected with her on the Snapchat app, (a photo and video messaging application on mobile phones) and kept asking her who she was. She said McKinley got “cheeky” with her, so she told her to ‘Calm the ham.’ Ms Doherty said the phrase was one used by her friends and meant ‘calm down.’

She told the court that on the night in question, she and her friends Aine Doherty, Marie McGonagle and Jacob Dinan had been in the Tul na Ri niteclub. When they left, Aine Doherty saw McKinley’s sister, Emma and went to speak to her. Emma McKinley was a passenger in the car of Ruth McKinley, who was driving.

Ms Doherty said McKinley, a single mother-of-one, asked Aine Doherty: “Is that Edel?.

“I said I was and she asked why I said: ‘Calm the ham’. I told her I say it to everyone. Ruth and Emma both said I should watch who I say it to.’

Ms Doherty said she and her friend then walked away and alleged Emma McKinley shouted after them: “something like you should keep your tramps on leads.”

She said they went to get a bus, which was full, so walked to the front of the niteclub to wait on a taxi. McKinley pulled up in her car. Aine Doherty went to the passenger side and McKinley called Edel Doherty to the driver’s side.

Ms Doherty told the court: “She said: ‘I want to say it to your face.’ She got out and said: ‘If you say ‘Calm the ham’ to me once again I’ll put you six feet under.”

Ms Doherty said McKinley then punched her and pulled her hair before kneeing her in the stomach. She ‘blacked out’ and when she woke up, her friends Aine and Marie were helping her up. Her knees were also bleeding. Ms Doherty went to NowDoc where she was told her she had whiplash and in a second doctor’s visit on the Monday, she received tablets for her head and stomach, which were sore.

Ms Doherty told the court she had “four drinks at the most” on the night.

Defence solicitor Ciaran MacLochlainn asked Ms Doherty if, via the app, she had called McKinley a “mental b***h.” She replied she had not, but had told her she was “going mad at me.”

Mr MacLochlainn asked Ms Doherty if, on the night of the assault, she had accused McKinley of being jealous as she had been talking to Daniel Collins, McKinley’s ex-boyfriend. She refuted this and said she had been texting Mr Collins, but “only as a friend, about two years ago.” Ms Doherty also refuted suggestions she had grabbed McKinley by the jacket first.

Mr MacLochlainn also referred to Emma McKinley’s statement, which said both women had a “hold of each other’s hair” and she and Aine Doherty had split up the fight. Ms Doherty also refuted this.

Giving evidence, McKinley refuted Ms Doherty’s version of events and denied telling her she’d leave her “six feet under.” She admitted she was “annoyed” at the ‘Calm the ham’ comment, as she thought it meant she was “like a pig.”

Judge Paul Kelly accepted Ms Doherty’s evidence, calling the incident “childish.”

McKinley has no previous convictions and was ordered to enter into a peace bond of 250 euro to keep the peace for 12 months.