Man convicted of swinging poodle round his head left with fractured skull after attacking OAP

Darren Callaghan who has links to the criminal gang suspected of being involved in the shooting of DCI John Caldwell escaped a jail sentence last week

Darren Callaghan

Darren Callaghan

Steven MooreSunday World

A thug who has links to the criminal gang suspected of being involved in the shooting of DCI John Caldwell was left with a fractured skull after he had attacked a pensioner.

Poodle-swinging thug Darren Callaghan escaped a jail sentence on Thursday for beating up the OAP in a bar-room fracas.

The 34-year-old – once jailed for beating up his girlfriend and swinging her Poodle over his head and chucking it over a fence – pleaded guilty to assault, criminal damage and disorderly behaviour after an incident 11 months ago.

Despite serving a suspended sentence at the time of his bar-room attack, Judge Bernie Kelly had to take into consideration Callaghan’s considerable injuries which he received shortly after he left the Half-Way House Bar in Tattyreagh, just outside Omagh.

The court was told moments after leaving the pub, Callaghan was assaulted and left unconscious, with a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain.

Darren Callaghan

Last year we revealed how Callaghan was jailed after he drove to a police station to sign for bail while serving a driving ban!

He admitted driving to a cop shop while disqualified on July 19 last year when he was detected in a Volkswagen Golf in Omagh and his vehicle was stopped by a police stinger device.

Callaghan is friends with members of a crime family – two of whom were arrested earlier this month and questioned about the attempted murder of top cop Caldwell, before they were released unconditionally.

Callaghan has suffered life-changing injuries in the attack outside the pub last April and there’s no suggestion he had anything to do with the shooting two weeks ago.

Callaghan is also close friends with caged former army veteran Ashley McLean who is serving four-and-a-half-years for running a £500,000 cocaine factory last year.

Last Thursday Omagh Magistrates Court heard brief details of how convicted criminal Callaghan assaulted Brian Broderick, who is in his late 60s, on April 11 last year.

The assault took place in the pub and when a staff member intervened, Callaghan also assaulted them.

The court was told Mr Broderick’s coat was damaged and that constituted the criminal damage charge.

When Callaghan subsequently left the bar, he was seriously assaulted, the court was told.

Defence barrister Joe McCann told the court: “In the aftermath of this incident the defendant was found some 200 metres from the bar in an unconscious state. He has suffered a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain.”

Callaghan has suffered life-changing injuries. He now requires assistance with everyday tasks such as washing and he has problems with his kidneys and will probably need dialysis.

Mr McCann said it was believed the assault was linked with the earlier incident in the bar.

“You will see that police have seized text messages from people linked to the assault and the subsequent incident,” Mr McCann said. “That is a matter for another day.

“My understanding, subject to correction, is that one of the other people present has been charged with withholding information in respect of the incident.

“It is not in dispute that while the CCTV footage in respect of this incident (the assault in the bar) has been readily accessible to police the CCTV footage that may inform the later incident (the attack on Callaghan) has been deleted.

“So there are questions that may have to be answered in another forum in relation to that. My point is that, in relation to that, I can’t say. Neither can the defendant. He was unconscious.

“My point is that the defendant has suffered and suffered very seriously. For that reason, I say it is an exceptional case.”

Judge Bernie Kelly said: “There’s no much reason in ordering a pre-sentence report. It’s a difficult sentencing exercise, given his medical difficulties.

“Taking into account his existing suspended sentence, this is a complex case.”

She imposed a conditional discharge for two years on Callaghan. She also imposed a restraining order.

This forbids him from having contact with the man assaulted or entering the Half Way House bar.

When the judgment was announced Callaghan, of Ballynhatty Road, Fintona, got up and walked briskly out of the court.

A man is currently facing charges in respect of the attack on Callaghan.

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.

He phoned the Sunday World last May to complain about being described as a “poodle-swinging thug”.

He ranted down the phone: “Stop writing sh*t about me. I’m amazed nobody has done you in.”

When asked which part of our article he took offence at, Callaghan said, “That sh*t about me swinging a poodle around my head.”

But as we pointed out to Darren at the time, that was the exact wording of the charge on court papers.

The unusual 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.”

Today's Headlines

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos