not funny  | 

Hotel customer who put female bartender in 'chokehold' and swung her thought it was 'funny'

Judge told the accused he will only be spared bail if he pays victim €10,000
Michael O'Grady

Michael O'Grady

Andrew Phelan

A hotel customer who put a bar woman in a “choke hold” and swung her around the floor had thought the drink-fuelled attack was a “bit of fun,” a court heard.

Michael O’Grady (25) had believed the assault was a joke that the terrified victim would think was “funny.”

A judge told him he will only be spared jail if he pays €10,000 to the “brave” woman, who told how she would probably never work in the bar industry again because of what O’Grady did.

The accused, of Gleesk, Kells, Caherciveen, Co Kerry, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to the woman, accepting his behaviour was “wholly inappropriate” and it was a “gross misreading of the situation.”

Judge Gerard Jones adjourned the case at Blanchardstown District Court for payment of the compensation.

Garda Martin O’Brien told the court the incident happened at the Maldron Hotel, Newland’s Cross, Clondalkin on May 17 this year.

The victim was tidying up in the bar area at the end of the night when the accused came up and grabbed her from behind.

“He put his right arm over her neck, caught her in a choke hold and swung her around, moving her along the floor for a couple of feet,” the garda said.

“It didn’t last a long time but she did feel pain and found it hard to breathe for those few seconds.”

The bar manager intervened and the accused released the victim.

She was upset afterwards but made a full recovery, Gda Martin said.

The accused was a stranger to the bar woman, who had served him in the course of the night.

The woman, in her 20s, gave victim impact evidence.

“I was working away in the bar, cleaning up and I was assaulted,” she told the court. “Hands were put on me, around my neck… there was dragging involved, not loads but a good bit. I was pulled from one side of the bar to the middle of the floor.”

“You don’t expect to go into work and something like that to happen to you,” she said.

“I didn’t go back to the job after, I was scared and terrified. In a way I almost blamed myself even though it’s not my fault. I’m nervous when I go out and people come up too close behind me. I will probably never work in the bar industry again because of it.”

Defence barrister Ciaran MacLoughlin said it was a “gross misreading of the situation” by his client and something young men “might do to their friends on a night out, thinking it was funny” or a bit of boisterous behaviour. It was clearly not funny at all, he said.

O’Grady had not intended to cause the woman any distress, but had “a load of drink taken.”

He “thought it was funny and thought she would think it was funny”, but this was clearly “stupid.”

He apologised profusely for his “wholly inappropriate” behaviour and accepted there was “no excuse for it.”

It was “incredible” how he could have read the situation so badly and thought what he was doing was a “joke” and a “bit of fun.”

O’Grady, a machine operator, had no prior convictions. What happened was completely out of character, Mr MacLoughlin said.

Judge Jones said the victim was a “very brave young woman” who had to give up her job because of what O’Grady did.

“How dare he behave in that manner,” he said.

The judge said the accused had to hand in €10,000 “if he doesn’t want to go into Mountjoy.”

He adjourned the case to May next year.

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