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Regency weigh-in boxer avoids jail over violent road rage incident

CourtsBy Sunday World
Anthony Fitzgerald
Anthony Fitzgerald

A former professional boxer who broke a bus driver's nose during a road rage incident has received a suspended sentence.

Anthony Fitzgerald (32) of Gloucester Place, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Toufik Slali on North Circular Road, on November 18, 2014.

The victim was driving to a school when a Mini pulled out in front of him with no signal, Garda Robert Tomkin told the court. The bus driver had to brake hard and beep his horn.

Fitzgerald jumped out from the driver's side of the car and started shouting that his children were in the car. When the driver didn't respond the accused got on to the bus and told Mr Slali: “You fucking foreigner, talk to me when I speak to you”.

The victim said that Fitzgerald then head-butted him on the nose and he fell back into a seat. The victim told gardai that Fitzgerald then punched him.

Paul Comiskey O'Keeffe BL, defending, said this was an incident of road rage in which Fitzgerald had a “hyper-sensitive reaction” .

He said his client denied head-butting or punching him and said he struck the victim with an open hand.

Judge Melanie Greally said that because of his boxing background the use of his palm to strike a blow had a different degree of force. She said the damage caused by the blow spoke for itself.

She said that Fitzgerald had made extremely abusive and racist remarks before assaulting the victim but said he now accepted his response was grossly inappropriate.

She suspended a prison sentence of three years on condition he keep the peace. She noted that he had not offended since this incident and now volunteered as a boxing coach in his childhood club.

Fitzgerald was in the Regency Hotel in 2016 when gunmen burst in and blasted the boxing weigh-in, causing the death of David Byrne and injuring others.

Fitzgerald retired from boxing shortly after the incident.

Gda Tomkin said that Fitzgerald has 31 previous convictions including assault, criminal damage and two firearms and offensive weapons offences. He has 23 road traffic offence convictions and was disqualified from driving for ten years.

The victim experienced ongoing dizziness, blurred vision and headaches after the attack. A fracture of his nasal bone was fixed in surgery.

Mr O'Keeffe said Fitzgerald previously represented his country in international boxing. Since his retirement he had taken up coaching in his local club Corinthians.

He said that his client had brought €4,000 to court as a token of remorse. He said the raising of this was a considerable hardship as his client was on job seeker's allowance and the family was of limited means.

The court heard Fitzgerald has since engaged in psychotherapy and anger management sessions to deal with his inability to manage anger in times of stress.