Dublin woman tore chunks of shop worker's hair out during attack

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Central Criminal Court
Central Criminal Court

SENTENCING of a Dublin woman, who was found guilty of tearing clumps of hair from a shop worker's head during a vicious attack, has been adjourned for a victim impact statement to be given.

Aoife Smith, 31, of Sarto Park, Bayside, had denied assault causing harm to Emma Dixon but was found guilty by Dublin District Court in May.

A pre-sentence probation report was sought and she appeared again today when the court asked for a victim impact statement to be given. The case was put back for two weeks.

Ms Dixon had told the trial in May that she was left bleeding with clumps of hair falling out after the incident at the Bayside Inn on the afternoon of June 15, 2013. She also said she had massive bald patches and her hair still hasn't fully regrown.

The court heard Aoife Smith had been outside the pub with a friend drinking Fat Frog and she started to verbally abuse Emma Dixon when she arrived at the pub with her boyfriend and their dog.

The court was told Smith blamed Ms Dixon for being barred from a shop in which she worked.

It took the efforts of two men to release her grip on Ms Dixon's hair which allegedly got wrapped around Smith's fingers, Judge Michael Coghlan heard.

Judge Coghlan described the incident as “nothing short of a vicious assault on the victim” and he said CCTV evidence showed Smith “prowling outside the front of the bar in an aggressive manner”.

Ms Dixon told the court she had tried to ignore Smith's taunting and she went into the pub with her boyfriend. She said Smith entered and told “you got me barred from that bleeding shop”. She said Smith grabbed her by the back of her head and pulled her down.

Ms Dixon said her boyfriend Stephen Murphy tried to stop Smith but he tripped over a dog lead.

“She had me on the ground and would not let got, kept pulling my hair,” Ms Dixon said. She said her boyfriend and bar manager Paul Lynch, who both gave evidence for the prosecution, eventually “unclenched her fingers, it took them a few seconds to do that”.

She told the court Smith had “twisted her fingers” around her hair. She was in shock, had cuts to her head and “clumps of hair came out”.

She told the court she suffered “massive hair loss”. In the two years since the incident, she said, her hair has “grown half way down, I can still not wear it down, it's still not as thick, hopefully, eventually it will grow back”.

Smith gave evidence and denied being the aggressor and claimed she was attacked first after she had “a bit of banter” with her friend.

She claimed she slipped and Ms Dixon fell on her and her hair had been grabbed too. She said that when Ms Dixon and her partner had first entered the pub she though they said something to her and she replied “shut up you dope”.

Gda Shane Buckley attended the scene and found that Smith “appeared to be aggressive and intoxicated and slurring her speech”.

After the hearing in May, Judge Coghlan said he was satisfied with the evidence of the prosecution and “similarly dissatisfied with the evidence of the accused”.

He had said CCTV evidence showed Smith and her friend prior to the assault, “in what can only be described as prowling outside the front of the bar in an aggressive manner.