Judge directs jury to find Clonmany man charged with assault not guilty

Mark O'Donnell appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court.
Mark O'Donnell appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

A judge directed a jury to find a Clonmany man charged with assault causing harm not guilty after his alleged victim told the court he did not wish to proceed with the matter and refused to testify.

Mark O’Donnell, 2 Gaddyduff, Clonmany, contested the charge at Letterkenny Circuit Court and the matter proceeded to trial.

O’Donnell was charged with assault causing harm to Conor O’Neill at Station Road, Carndonagh on 15th November, 2009.

He was represented in court by Damien Crawford Bl instructed by Frank Dorrian, solicitor. Patricia McLaughlin BL prosecuted on behalf of the Director

of Public prosecutions instructed by Ciaran Liddy, State Solicitor.

The jury had been sworn in on the matter and the trial was expected to last at least a day.

Ms McLaughlin told the jury the prosecution was alleging that O’Donnell had stopped his jeep on Station Road and Mr O’Neill, who lived in Leenan, Clonmany in 2009 but now lives in Carndonagh had got out of another car with two other men and another car had stopped behind them. Mr O’Neill and another man then ran towards O’Donnell. It was alleged Mr O’Neill was put on the ground and O’Donnell then put pressure on Mr O’Neill’s shoulder to pin him to the ground and then hit him several times with an implement.

O’Donnell denied this, stating he put Mr O’Neill on the ground but did not hit him. He said he did not see who had hit Mr O’Neill. Ms McLaughlin said the prosecution stated this was not consistent with Mr O’Neill’s injuries.

Mr O’Neill then took to the stand and after being sworn in said he did not want to go ahead with the case. He added the alleged incident had been a “long time ago” and he “didn’t really remember” the details.

When Ms McLaughlin put questions to Mr O’Neill he replied: “I don’t want to go ahead with this. I don’t want to do this.” He said he had made this clear “outside” before the hearing but had been told to state it in court. He confirmed he had been in Carndonagh on the night but when asked who he was with Mr O’Neill replied: “I don’t remember.” Ms McLaughlin asked: “Were you with anyone?” to which he replied: “I don’t remember.”

Judge John O’Hagan told Mr O’Neill he was obliged to answer the questions put to him, stating the Director of Public Prosecutions had taken a certain attitude in proceeding with the case. He pointed out to Mr O’Neill how he had been the person who first made the complaint towards O’Donnell.Ms McLaughlin then asked Mr O’Neill if he had been in Carndonagh on the night, to which he replied: “I don’t remember.” She again asked him who he was with and he replied again: “I don’t remember.” Ms McLaughlin asked Mr O’Neill if he saw anyone on the night to which he told her: ‘No.’ She then asked if he had seen anyone on the night and if he was due to meet anyone to which he again replied: “I don’t remember” to both questions. When asked if he remembered having photographs taken Mr O’Neill replied he did not and he said he also did not remember attending NowDoc. He added he did not remember meeting O’Donnell but did know him as they are from the “same town.”

The jury was asked to retire on a number of occasions for lengthy legal argument between the defence and prosecution. which went into the afternoon. Following this, Judge John O’Hagan directed the jury they should find O’Donnell not guilty by his order.