A Pettigo man who was charged with assault causing harm to his partner was found not guilty by a jury of 4 women and 8 men at the December sitting of the Donegal Circuit Court
Aidan Britton of Mill Street, Pettigo pleaded not guilty to assaulting Ms. Olive Smith at Mill St., Pettigo on the morning of October 7, 2011. The court was told that both parties were living together at the time.
Opening the case for the prosecution Ms. Patricia McLaughlin told the jury that there would be an allegation of “stamping on the head where injury ensued”.
She told the court that Ms. Smith had moved from Cavan to live with Mr. Britton. She also advised the jury that from the outset that there was drink involved by both parties but that this is no excuse for incidents such as this.
Ms. McLaughlin said, “Essentially Ms. Smith will say that they both had got back to the house at different times. Mr. Britton was in bed but that he got up and pushed her and stamped her on the head.
“She then called the emergency services and was brought to Sligo General Hospital, where she received 6 stitches,” she added.
In direct evidence, 46-year old Ms. Smith said that she was now a third year student in Sligo and living in student accommodation.
She had said that her relationship was an “on/off relationship and that sometimes they would have slept together”.
She claimed that after drinking approximately a bottle and a half of wine she later went to bed. and that Mr. Britton went to Laghey. She said that when she heard him return she went to his room and asked him “what trouble did he cause tonight?”
She continued, “He jumped out of the bed and knocked me down from behind and stamped me on the head with his bare foot.”
In evidence Gda. Michael Farren of the Criminal Scene Investigations said that when he arrived on the scene he spoke to the complainant and she told him that she had been knocked to the floor and that he (the defendant) had put his foot on her head. He said that she did not mention stamping or kicking.
Gda. Farren also noted that photographic evidence will show evidence of blood stains both inside and outside the house.
Gda. Derek Healy who interviewed the defendant said that Mr. Britton had claimed that Ms. Smith had entered his room and had pulled the duvet of his bed and abused him and claimed that she had both tablets and alcohol
He said, “She was at the bottom of the stairs and I helped her back up again and I went back up to bed. I did not see any cut on her then - she had just a small mark on her.”
The defendant said that he had consumed about 12 pints and admitted that his memory was patchy.
For the defense Mr. Peter Nolan instructed by defence solicitor, Mr. Rory O’Brien said, “There was a large amount of drink consumed - they were both drunk.
“The complainant claims that she was in fear, that she was petrified of the defendant - if that was the case, what was she going into his room at 3.40am and waking him up? This goes beyond credibility.
“She does not know exactly what happened whether she was stood on, stamped on or kicked.”
He said that she had given different versions to the gardai and the medical authorities and that her evidence was full of inconsistencies.
The jury retired and after deliberating for one hour and 10 minutes returned a verdict of not guilty.