COURTS

County councillor accused of kicking man in face as he lay on the ground

John O'Donnell denies two charges of assault causing harm

Staff Reporter

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Donegal Councillor swears at meeting, brands staff as 'arrogant'

Cllr John O'Donnell

A Donegal county councillor punched a man and then kicked him in the face while he lay on the ground, a court has heard.

John O'Donnell, who sits as an independent councillor, is on trial at Letterkenny Circuit Criminal Court charged with assault causing harm to Emmett Gallagher at the Sultan takeaway in Letterkenny in the early hours of the morning of February 23, 2015.

He is also charged with assault causing harm to Mr Gallagher’s friend Seamus O'Donnell at Gortlee, Letterkenny on the same date.

John O’Donnell (37) from Kilmacrennan has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Mr Gallagher, who was 18 at the time, told the first day of the trial on Wednesday that he wanted to withdraw his statement.

On the second day of evidence, the court heard that Mr Gallagher said in a statement to gardaí on March 4, 2015, that John O’Donnell punched him in the face inside the takeaway.

He agreed with the contents of the statement read out by prosecuting counsel Patricia McLaughlin (BL) that John O'Donnell had come up to him, told him to “settle down” and then returned to his seat.

Mr Gallagher told gardaí that a minute or two later he was hit.

He said Mr O’Donnell punched him in the face with a closed fist. The punch nearly knocked him out and he could not eat for two days.

Mr Gallagher told the court on several occasions that the events were “four years ago”, he could not remember, and that whatever was in his statement was what had happened.

He said that after leaving the restaurant there was an “argument or a fight” between Seamus O’Donnell and John O’Donnell.
He said Seamus O'Donnell asked John O’Donnell about what had happened in the restaurant.

Mr Gallagher said Seamus O’Donnell was hit in the face by John O’Donnell. Mr Gallagher said the two men had been on the ground with each other and that there was drink involved.

“Seamus was sticking up for himself I presume and he ended up getting hurt. He was punched.”

He told the court that Seamus O'Donnell ended up on the ground and was “in pretty bad shape”.

“He was assaulted by John. He was hit and being punched in a fight. He was being punished.”
He and another friend, Paddy Gallagher, put Seamus O’Donnell in a taxi and brought him to hospital.

In his statement to gardaí, Emmett Gallagher said John O'Donnell had approached the men and hit Seamus O’Donnell in the face. He said John O’Donnell had wanted to fight.

When Seamus O'Donnell fell to the ground John O’Donnell kicked him in the face, Mr Gallagher told gardaí. He said “the blood was wild” and Seamus O'Donnell was knocked out and was left shaking.

The trial is at hearing and is expected to last into a third day.