alleged attack | 

Man convicted of swinging poodle round his head is left with 'life-changing injuries'

Darren Callaghan spent four weeks in hospital after he was allegedly attacked outside a pub on the outskirts of Omagh

Darren Callaghan

Steven Moore

A criminal once convicted of swinging his girlfriend's poodle round his head was battered with a wooden plank and left with "potentially life-changing injuries", a court has heard.

Darren Callaghan, described in court as being "well known to police", spent four weeks in hospital after he was allegedly attacked outside a pub on the outskirts of Omagh, Co Tyrone/

He was found bleeding heavily and drifting in-and-out of consciousness close to the pub he'd been drinking in.

In 2011 Callaghan was jailed for assaulting his then girlfriend and animal cruelty for swinging her pet poodle over his head and over a garden fence during the same incident.

But he was the victim of a nasty assault five weeks ago after an altercation at a public house, it has been claimed.

Dungannon Magistrates Court was told 35-year-old Jason McNabb assaulted Callaghan outside the country pub in the townland of Tattyreagh on April 11.

Jason McNabb

McNabb, of Aghnamoe Road, Dromore, was charged with causing grievous bodily harm and having a wooden plank with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, when he appeared before the court on Friday.

It emerged he has been in Germany and Denmark working for the last few weeks during which police were actively trying to speak to him.

Police opposed bail, however it was granted in the sum of two cash sureties of £5,000 and he was ordered to surrender his passport and driving licence.

A Detective Constable told the court that the alleged victim, who was described as 'well known to police', spent four weeks in hospital.

He added that the man's memory has been "badly affected" due to the inures he sustained.

The detective said: "He is on currently on crutches and has an injury to his left eye. His injuries are potentially life-changing".

The court was told that Callaghan had been involved in an earlier incident in the pub on the night of the alleged attack for which police intend to interview him at some point in the future.

CCTV showed McNabb and another man arrive in the vicinity. They walked down a road and, according to the detective, in other CCTV footage McNabb can be seen lifting a piece of timber.

He said the evidence related to both the defendant's and Callaghan's DNA being found on a wooden plank, as well as CCTV footage and mobile phone messages. There was no CCTV footage of the actual attack.

The seriously injured victim was found going in and out of consciousness with a head injury and bleeding heavily from his nose and mouth, on Crotty Road, 100 metres from the pub.

The detective also said the injured party's memory has been badly affected due to the injuries he sustained and that he indicated he is willing to co-operate with police "as much as he can", including allowing access to his medical records.

The Detective told the court that McNabb could not be located for five weeks after the incident and was activity sought by police. He contacted police last week and handed himself in by arrangement.

He gave a 'no comment' interview other than to indicate the whereabouts of a mobile phone.

The detective also said McNabb has not named the man who was allegedly with him. He also stated that police believe CCTV footage from the bar was deliberately wiped to 'cover up' the offending.

Defence barrister Blaine Nugent said the defendant left the area to go to a job overseas and returned knowing police wanted to speak to him.

The detective also agreed the injured man is to be questioned by police about the earlier incident in the bar, that did not involve the accused in this case.

McNabb will appear before Omagh Magistrates Court again on June 7.

Callaghan was once jailed for an incident where he assaulted his girlfriend and her poodle dog.

The bizarre charge was read out at Omagh Magistrates Court in 2011 and read as Callaghan: "Swung dog, namely a poodle around his head a number of times and threw it over a fence."

He was 22 years old at the time and he was later convicted of theft and burglary.

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