Rugby player assaulted woman in fight over a ‘Santa Hat’

A RUGBY player who was in Athy District Court last Tuesday for assaulting a woman over a Santa hat was ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service in lieu of five months in prison and fined €500.

A RUGBY player who was in Athy District Court last Tuesday for assaulting a woman over a Santa hat was ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service in lieu of five months in prison and fined €500.

Leslie O’Meara with an address listed as 147 Corran Ard, Athy pleaded not guilty to the offence which occurred at the Castle Inn bar on 18, December, 2011.

The court heard that Lorna Corcoran was given a black eye by the defendant when she tried to get a santa hat back from the defendant who took it from her head while she was dancing on the dance floor. The hat was described as black in colour with the words ‘Bah Humbug’ on it.

The married father-of-two at the time, who plays rugby for Athy, told the court that he had been on a pub crawl drinking ten pints throughout the course of the day and night. He claimed that the hat was his and had been given to him by his son.

The injured party told the court that when she tried to grab the hat back the defendant refused to give the hat back unless he got a kiss.

“As I grabbed it he grabbed me by the thigh, ripped my dress and I fell to my knees,” she said.

“I got up and I was bruised and really upset. It was a new dress. I was crying. I told him ‘you’re a great man pulling me to the ground for a Santa hat’. He started to call me names - I told him I was going to tell security. He followed me and I threw my drink at him. Then he punched me and I blacked out. I banged the back of the stair case and had bruises on the back of my head, bum and eye. I was disorientated as I wear glasses, but contact lenses when I go out.”

The defendant denied in court that he punched the victim but admitted that he pushed her after he felt something hit the back of his neck.

The injured party admitted that when the defendant called her ‘tramp’ she threw her glass at him. Security was then called to the scene and the defendant was asked to leave.

He told the court that he left the premises but had a ‘red mark’ at the back of his head which the owner of the bar witnessed.

“I’ve never punched a woman in my life,” he said. “When I pushed her she banged her head unless she hit her eye off the stairs. I did not punch her.”

Judge Desmond Zaidan said the assault came about over a trivial black Santa hat that got out of control.

“I’ve no doubt he punched her,” he said. “She suffered a black eye as a result of his actions. She wouldn’t give him a kiss so he was going to keep the hat. He has shown no remorse.”

He was given 90 days to pay the fine.