KILDARE COURT: Assault charge struck out after 'racist row' in Athy estate

Athy District Court

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The case of an Athy woman, who was charged with assault at Athy District Court after a racist row broke out in a local estate, was struck out on Tuesday, February 12.

Anne Marie Harty of 25 Ardrew Court, Athy came to the attention of gardai on March 29, 2016 at Ardrew Court at 6.45pm. The court heard from the alleged victim (16), who told gardai that on the day she was struck in the face by the defendant during the row.

The alleged victim said in court under oath that a verbal row had broken out between herself and one of the defendant's young relatives and some friends. The victim told the court they called her and her friends "n****rs" and "black cockroaches", saying "here comes the n****rs" as they walked by. Words were then exchanged between the two groups.

It was alleged that the group retaliated with name calling such as "pikeys" and "snowmen", however the victim denied these allegations. The victim's family friend, who she called auntie, came out to see what was going on, and shortly afterwards the defendant and some family members also came out of the house to see what was happening. It was at this time that a physical fight broke out with all parties involved, which was described by the judge as a "free for all".

The victim alleged that as the defendant went to hit her auntie, her hand swung back and she struck her across the face instead. She told the court that her face was swollen for two days afterwards. 

The defendant's solicitor David Gibbons asked if the slap could have been accidental. 

She alleged the defendant had hit her auntie first, and that her auntie retaliated by hitting Ms Harty with her shoe over the head. However, the alleged victim admitted under questioning that the blow to her face could have been accidental.

"It is not nice," said Judge Desmond Zaidan. 

"The use of racist language, all teenagers - that is how it started when they said 'n***er', then the adults got involved and she got hit in the face. She is an honest witness - it doesn't make it right but it was a free for all. This now has to stop - this witness and her family have a right to move freely without hassle."

The defendant then agreed to apologise to the victim after admitting that she could have struck her accidentally. She also agreed under oath not to have anything to do with the victim if she comes back into the estate.

Sgt Brian Jacob said he was satisfied for the case to be struck out as there was no evidence to say the defendant meant to strike the victim.