Lawyers for boxer facing assault charge ask for case to be thrown out

Jamie Kavanagh
Jamie Kavanagh

Lawyers for a professional boxer who assaulted a nightclub bouncer have asked a court to strike out the charges so he can take up a significant fight contract in the US.

Jamie Kavanagh (27) was part of a group which attacked door staff at Dublin's Copper Face Jacks nightclub in what the court heard was “an explosion of violence”

Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, said that that Kavanagh “got caught up” in the brawl with the other men who he had met up with earlier during his father Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh's funeral in September 2014.

Paul Rice (26) and Mark Carlyle (27), who were the instigators of the brawl and committed the worst of the violence, were previously jailed for their part.

They had attempted to get into the club but were refused entry and then returned with four other men, including Kavanagh.

When Rice and Carlyle were once again refused entry, they and three other men rushed the club entrance. Rice and Carlyle dragged one bouncer across the street before punching him 17 times to the head. Carlyle also lifted a security barrier and threw it at the security staff.

Kavanagh of Mourne Rd, Drimnagh, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting the doorman and to engaging in threatening or abusive behaviour on Harcourt Street on September 23, 2014.

The court heard that Kavanagh was standing to the side of the group and had a minimal role in the brawl. At one point he went towards a doorman who was standing on top of steps at the club's entrance but this man acted quickly and pushed him away.

Kavanagh lost his balance and went to the ground, the court heard.

A garda, who was a boxing fan, later identified the father-of-two. Kavanagh was living in the UK but returned to Dublin the following month and gardaí arrested him at the airport.

Garda Niall Murray told the court that Kavanagh has no previous convictions and said he was unlikely to offend again. He said he believed this was “a moment of madness” for the sportsman.

Keith Spencer BL, defending, said that his client had made no physical contact with the doorman.

He told Judge Elma Sheahan that the court had the power to strike out the indictment to leave him without a conviction. He asked the court to consider doing this because of the minor role Kavanagh played in the brawl.

He said Kavanagh had an offer of very significant three year contract in the United States and that a recorded conviction could interfere with this contract.

Judge Sheahan adjourned the case to July 21 next and asked the DPP to provide instructions on the defence's submissions. She suggested to Kavanagh that he contact his local amateur boxing club over the next month in order to provide 20 hours of coaching to them.

Paul Rice of Allenton Avenue, Tallaght, Dublin and Carlyle of Derry Park, Crumlin, Dublin were jailed on previous dates after pleading guilty to violent disorder on the night.

In December 2015 Carlyle, who has multiple serious previous convictions, received a sentence of five years with the final 18 months suspended.

In April 2016, a Circuit Court judge sentenced Rice to three years' imprisonment but suspended the final year. Rice has 11 previous convictions.

Lawyers for Kavanagh said he knew Rice but didn't know Carlyle and had met him during the funeral earlier that day.

The court heard that Carlyle instigated the rush towards the security staff. He and Rice dragged the doorman, Ciaran Clarke, away and began punching him. Mr Clarke received punches to his head while on the ground.

Kavanagh's lawyer submitted to the court that it could strike out the indictment to leave Kavanagh without a conviction.

Mr Spencer said that such jurisdiction lay with the District Court, where the offences Kavanagh pleaded guilty to would normally be dealt with. The offences had only come to the Circuit Court because of the overall nature of what Mr Cooney said was a “vicious assault on security staff”.

Mr Spencer said that would be an anomalous situation and potentially unconstitutional if the hands of Circuit Court were completely tied and if a Circuit Court judge was bound to register a conviction when the District Court had a jurisdiction to strike out the offence.

Mr Cooney told the court that this power applied to summary offences dealt with at district court level. He said he wasn't sure if the Circuit Court would have jurisdiction to strike out the charge.

He asked the court for time to allow him to receive instructions from the DPP.

Mr Spencer also told Judge Sheahan that he was handing into court a “glowing reference” for his client written by a UK Magistrate who is an aunt of Kavanagh's partner.