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GAA star Cathal McCarron spared conviction over Temple Bar row

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Cathal McCarron
Cathal McCarron

TYRONE Gaelic football star Cathal McCarron has been spared a criminal record and a sentence after he had to be restrained when he got into a row with staff at a Temple Bar pub.

The 2008 All-Ireland winner, who hit the headlines over a gay porn video and his chronic gambling problems, had pleaded guilty to engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour at Anglesea Street in Dublin city-centre on May 12 last. The public order offence can result in a conviction, fine and a three-month sentence.

Dublin District Court had heard that an irate McCarron had to be restrained by security staff before he was put of the Auld Dubliner pub and he then became aggressive to gardai who tried to calm him down.

Last week, Judge Michael Walsh held that McCarron would be spared a criminal record if he gave €500 to a homeless charity. The case resumed today but the Dromore and Tyrone corner-back was excused from having to attend.

Defence solicitor Peter Connolly furnished the court with a receipt showing his client had complied and had donated the money at which Judge Walsh said he was striking out the case.

Earlier, Garda Sergeant Gail Smith told Judge Walsh that gardai responded to a public order incident at the Auld Dublin pub where McCarron was being “restrained by security staff”. Gardai separated him from the pub security to ask him what happened and be became aggressive to them.

Gda Sgt Smith said the Gaelic games star was directed on numerous occasions to calm down but when he threw his top on the ground gardai arrested him.

The court heard he had no prior criminal convictions and has not come to Garda attention since.

Defence solicitor Peter Connolly had handed in to court a letter from his client in which he apologised to gardai. He said his client is now studying psycho-therapy part-time while continuing to work as a business development officer in a successful firm.

The court heard the 28-year-old, from Tummery Road, Dromore, Omagh, who also has three Ulster title medals, has been nominated for the 2016 All-Star football awards.

Mr Connolly said the footballer is very embarrassed and regrets the incident. He only drinks alcohol three or four times a year, the solicitor said. He said his client was out with a friend after they completed an exam however bar staff refused them service.

McCarron began to remonstrate and was restrained with his hand behind his back and became “irate”, Mr Connolly said.

The judge was asked to noted McCarron has had a number of well documented difficulties in his personal and professional life.

Pleading for leniency, Mr Connolly described the Temple Bar incident as the “last speed bump in his situation” and he added that his client has received support from his family and the GAA. He also asked the court to note that the footballer was recovering from a serious gambling addiction. The solicitor added that McCarron is in a relationship and his partner is expecting a child and he is focussed on sport, work and his family.

Judge Walsh said he noted he pleaded guilty, his genuine remorse and that he was under certain emotional stress which may have been a factor. He said McCarron was a distinguished member of his team and he had watched him over the years playing in an exemplary manner for Tyrone. The judge also said the footballer would not be likely to re-offend.

The footballer, who helped his county win this year's Ulster Championship, has released an autobiography titled “Out of Control”, which was co-written by journalist Christy O'Connor.

It tells the story of his football success but also delves into his other personal issues including his chronic gambling problems, his move to London and taking part in a hardcore gay porn video before returning home to Tyrone to play for his county again.

The back page blurb states: “McCarron is a 28-year-old inter-county footballer from Tyrone. A winner of one All-Ireland senior medal and three Ulster titles, he was nominated for an All-Star in 2013 and 2015. Yet behind all that success lay an extremely dark secret, a gambling addiction that cost him hundreds of thousands of pounds, endless relationships and, almost, his life. The illness took such a grip on McCarron that he was forced to leave the country but the addiction led him down an even darker path and into a world of total depravity where he was willing to do anything for money. Out of Control is a sports story unlike any other, a tale of success, lies, deceit, theft, recovery, rehabilitation and, ultimately, redemption.”