Scottish semi-professional footballers to be sentenced later for city center assault

By Eimear Dodd

Two Scottish semi-professional footballers who committed an “appalling assault” during a night out in Dublin will be sentenced in early 2023.

Liam Callaghan (27) and Craig Johnston (27) both pleaded guilty to assault causing damage and obstruction in Dublin city center on December 8, 2019.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the defendants, both semi-professional footballers for Scottish club Montrose FC, attacked the victim following an altercation at a nightclub.

Both defendants have addresses in Fyfe, Scotland. They are cousins ​​and each have a prior conviction in Scotland.

Judge Orla Crowe said an “appalling assault” was carried out on the victim who was “beyond reproach” to the defendants.

The defendants each offered €2,000 as a sign of remorse, which the victim was willing to accept.

Adjourning sentencing until January 20, 2023, Judge Crowe said the expression of remorse offered was not sufficient, given their work history, to show the “justified level of sincerity”.

Garda Emmet Hayde testified in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that on the night in question the victim and his partner stopped at Xico on Baggot Street around 1am for a drink before heading home from a night out.

At the bar, the victim was involved in an altercation with a colleague of Callaghan and Johnston and was asked to leave the bar.

The couple were walking down Lower Baggot Street towards St Stephen’s Green to catch a taxi around 2am when the victim heard screaming behind him.

He turned to see what was happening and was punched in the jaw by a man who, according to CCTV footage, appeared to be Callaghan.

A passerby tried to intervene to stop the attack.

Johnston then arrived and, with Callaghan, attempted to reach the victim.

The passerby took the victim to Ely Place in an attempt to flee, but the defendants followed him and continued their attack.

One of them picked up a traffic cone and threw it at the victim.

A garda public order unit was in the area and observed the attack.

They also saw one of the defendants hit the victim with a box, which knocked his head off the ground.

The defendants attempted to flee, but were apprehended by gardai.

The victim was taken to hospital where he was treated for injuries to his face, lower leg and ankle. He had to undergo three ankle surgeries. His left eye socket was also fractured, but he suffered no serious eye injuries.

Photos of the victim’s injuries and CCTV footage of the incident were shown in court.

The attorney for the prosecution read the victim impact statement in court. The victim said his “Christmas was ruined” by the attack, which also caused bouts of depression and anxiety in the crowd.

The victim said he missed opportunities to work abroad and suffered an economic loss of more than €6,000 due to this incident.

Gda Hayde agreed with the defense attorney that none of the defendants have attracted negative attention from the garda since this incident.

He also admitted that an altercation took place between the victim and a colleague of the defendants in Xico.

Gda Hayde told Karl Monahan BL, defending Callaghan, that the gardai were initially unaware of the altercation at Xico.

Gardai also requested CCTV from Xico, but it was not available.

Mr Monahan read a letter in court from the defendants’ colleague, who gave his account of the altercation at the bar.

Mr Monahan said that incident at Xico had been on Callaghan’s mind, although his reaction was disproportionate.

Judge Crowe said Callaghan’s reaction was “completely disproportionate” as he followed the victim down a public street.

This individual was not known to be investigating the gardai until the morning of the hearing and had not given a witness statement.

Callaghan spoke up and apologized directly to the victim on her and Johnston’s behalf for what happened.

The defense lawyer said Callaghan and Johnston are semi-professional footballers who also work full-time.

Both men cooperated and traveled from Scotland to attend court dates as needed.

Both Callaghan and Johnston are remorseful and sorry for their actions, which were out of character, the court was told.

Character references from the defendants’ employers and Montrose FC were given to the court.

Both defendants recently signed contract extensions with the Scottish club.

The defendants had also lost a close friend in tragic circumstances in the months leading up to this incident.

Judge Crowe adjourned the case until next year and said the court would like to see a “more concrete expression of remorse” from the defendants.

About James K. Bonnette

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