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Garda shot in the US found guilty of assaulting two women

Brian Hanrahan
Brian Hanrahan

A YOUNG Garda who survived a holiday shooting in the United States has been convicted of assaulting two women in a row over a €15 fee for a lift home.

Garda Brian Hanrahan (34) had vehemently denied before Nenagh District Court that he had punched the two women in an unprovoked attack near an isolated Tipperary cemetery.

However, Judge Elizabeth MacGrath today convicted the young Newcastlewest-based garda of assault causing harm after considering her verdict for a week following the day long trial.

"Having studied the evidence very carefully...the court is satisfied that Mr Hanrahan is guilty of the two charges," she said.

Judge MacGrath noted inconsistencies in Garda Hanrahan's evidence including his initial claim in a 999 call made from the scene that he had been confronted by six or eight people.

After convicting the young Garda, Judge MacGrath briefly adjourned the matter to determine when sentencing will be dealt with.

Two young women, Emer Kelly and Aisling King, had sobbed while giving evidence about the assaults which occurred when they had asked the young garda for a promised €15 for the lift home.

Garda Hanrahan, who was off duty at the time, insisted to the court he only acted in self-defence after he claimed one of the young women "launched herself" at him in a row over the lift fee.

"She (Emer Kelly) got out of the car and attacked me. She wanted me to pay €50. The last thing I wanted or desired was an altercation of any description after what had happened in New Orleans (the shooting)," he said.

"I did everything I could to stop it (the confrontation). I wasn’t trying to hurt her. I was trying to stop her. I couldn't get away from her. She was kind of stunned (after the blow). Then she sat down and started crying."

"If I hit her the way she said I hit her she would be black and blue all over."

"I am sorry she sustained an injury - but if I am attacked I am going to defend myself," he said.

Michelle O'Connell, for the State, said Gardaí became aware of an incident in Nenagh at around 4am on March 6 last.

Ms Kelly was in Nenagh with her friends Aisling King and Ellen Nyhill in her new car.

Mr Hanrahan approached the young women and agreed to pay them €15 to €20 for a lift to his home at Ballintotty, Nenagh.

None of the women knew him.

"It was a weird situation after a while. He was very rude. He said that Nenagh was full of scumbags," Ms Kelly said.

Mr Hanrahan also described Nenagh as "a sh** hole" and "a kip."

When one of the young women joked that Nenagh men would not like to hear such derogatory comments about their town, Ms Kelly said Mr Hanrahan replied that he would fight anyone who took him on.

The women then asked Mr Hanrahan to get out of their car.

He immediately complied and exited the vehicle near Lisboney cemetery.

"Aisling went to drive off but I said I will ask him for the money. I didn't want her to leave without him giving her something," Ms Kelly said.

"The door was between me and Brian. He pulled my hair and beat me to the ground," Ms Kelly sobbed.

"He kicked me in the face while I was on the ground."

"I covered my head. I left my mouth open and that is why the damage was caused to my teeth."

Ms Kelly subsequently required €510 worth of dental repair treatment.

"He kicked or punched me about six or eight times I couldn't touch my mouth it was so sore."

Ms Kelly, who is 5 ft in height, rejected defence claims that she had attacked Mr Hanrahan who is 6ft tall.

Aisling King said she jumped out of the car when she realised something was happening with her friend.

"He had pulled her hair. Then she (Emer) was on the ground. He was hitting her. It seemed to go on forever," Ms King wept.

"I said stop, stop, please stop. Please. But he hit me twice in the face. There was blood all over Emer’s face."

Ms Nyhill rang the gardaí.

A passing motorist, Eddie Ryan, stopped to help the young women.

"I saw Mr Hanrahan holding her (a young woman) by the hair," he said.

Mr Hanrahan of Newcastlewest Garda Station, Co Limerick denied two assaults contrary to Section 3 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act.

He insisted he only acted in self defence.

The young garda made headlines in 2015 when he was shot while on holidays in New Orleans in the US.

He had been withdrawing cash from an ATM when an armed robber attacked and shot him.