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Bare-knuckle head Man who got €60K compo after fall on halting site is spotted injuring the same hand in brawl

Appeal hears of footage showing claimant fighting

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Martin Stokes

Martin Stokes

Martin Stokes Jnr.

Martin Stokes Jnr.

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Martin Stokes

A man who was awarded €60,000 after claiming to have injured his hand by tripping in a halting site failed to turn up at an appeal after new evidence of him injuring the same hand in a bare-knuckle boxing fight was submitted to court.

The Court of Appeal heard Martin Stokes Jnr "undoubtedly wasn't telling the truth" at points during his original High Court claim against South Dublin County Council (SDCC) in 2017.

In the original case, Mr Justice Anthony Barr awarded Stokes (28) an extra €5,000 in aggravated damages because he said evidence did not support allegations by the defence that he was putting forward a fraudulent claim.

Stokes had told the original hearing that he fractured his knuckle after tripping while jogging near his then home in Oldcastle Park halting site, Clondalkin, west Dublin, on September 18, 2011.

The case heard he had been in a serious car crash the day before the incident and he subsequently received a pay-out from the Personal Injury Assessment Board for that.

In the original hearing the defence said that Stokes more likely sustained the injuries while boxing and it was their belief he was making a fraudulent claim.

However, the court was told at the time he trained with Drimnagh Boxing Club and gloves would prevent such an injury occurring.

Investigators have since found footage on YouTube of a bare-knuckle brawl between two men, one of whom gardai have said is Stokes.

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Stokes is seen injuring his hand in the fight, which was posted in 2012.

Stokes is seen injuring his hand in the fight, which was posted in 2012.

Stokes is seen injuring his hand in the fight, which was posted in 2012.

In an affidavit provided to the court, Garda Brendan Crawford, who had worked for 10 years in Clondalkin and knew the claimant, said he could say "without hesitation" Stokes was one of the fighters in the video.

The 13-minute bout between the two men ends when Stokes is unable to continue when he appears to have damaged a knuckle on his right hand - the same hand he claimed he injured while jogging.

The footage was posted on YouTube in 2012, months after Stokes injured his hand - but it is unclear when exactly it was taken.

The defence first learned of the existence of the video shortly before the appeal court was due to hear the case in October 2019. When Stokes heard about the footage he got up and walked out of court and his lawyer subsequently came off record for him. The court heard the "necessary degree of trust and confidence had either irreparably been damaged or eroded to a sufficient degree that the relationship" between Stokes and his lawyer couldn't sustain.

The appeal court heard this week that Stokes was informed of the case going ahead but he said he would not be attending.

Credibility

Mr Micheál Ó Scanaill SC, for SDCC, said: "We do consider that to be striking. From that moment on to effect Mr Stokes has not engaged in any way in the process. He has never participated other than to say he wouldn't be here to attend our particular appeal."

He added that the video was relevant to Stokes' credibility.

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YouTube video shows Stokes (left) in a bare-knuckle fight.

YouTube video shows Stokes (left) in a bare-knuckle fight.

YouTube video shows Stokes (left) in a bare-knuckle fight.

"At 13mins and 3secs to 13mins and 10secs unquestionably Mr Stokes can be seen stopping the fight or electing to stop the fight and looking to his right fist and in particular to his right knuckle, following which he is then goaded at 13 mins and 20 seconds onwards from his opponent, in effect calling on him to cede or equally 'are you beat or beaten' and I think that is significant in the overall credibility issue. That's just to set that scene as to the factual matrix."

In the original hearing, Stokes claimed he had given up boxing after the injury he sustained from the fall in 2011. He did not say he had been involved in bare-knuckle boxing.

Mr Ó Scanaill said the video, which was posted in 2012, shows that he lied in the original hearing.

"The video shows that the plaintiff told a lie to Mr Justice Barr when he said he hadn't returned to boxing because we know he was definitely returning to boxing and had engaged in bare-knuckle boxing before 2017 when his case commenced before Mr Justice Barr. It also shows him being injured - not necessarily the injury of which he complained - but him being injured."

He said evidence was given in the original case that the injury was a "classic boxing injury".

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan agreed that Stokes didn't tell the truth in the original hearing given the video was posted to YouTube in 2012 and assuming it was filmed around that time.

Complaint

"Undoubtedly, he wasn't telling the truth then as to having not engaged in any form of boxing subsequent to the so-called accident," the judge said.

"It seems to me from reading your first set of submissions your central complaint is that the plaintiff should not have been believed because there was overwhelming evidence to indicate to the contrary. Whether that's right or wrong is obviously something we will have to consider in due course.

"There are other issues obviously - contributory negligence, the duty of care, aggravated damages, all the rest of it and we understand that very well."

Mr Ó Scanaill said that had it been known Stokes was a bare-knuckle fighter in the original case it would have ended quite quickly.

"One of the key issues that Mr Brennan [Stokes' original lawyer] sought to extract from [medical expert] Mr McManus in terms of the cross-examination of him, was that in fact if it was a boxing injury that couldn't be one that impacted the plaintiff because he was a participant in Drimnagh Boxing Club one would never be bare-knuckle fighting.

"We now know that's not the case."

Expense

Asking for the appeal court to overturn the Circuit Court decision, Mr Ó Scanaill said his clients would have to go to additional expense if there is a retrial and, while he couldn't guarantee winning a retrial,he feels it would be likely, particularly in light of the bare-knuckle boxing video.

"I submit the reality of it is that no court would find sufficient credible evidence to support the plaintiff's contentions," he said.

He added that medical evidence suggested Stokes would have had to have fallen on a closed fist to injure himself in the way he described, but didn't say he did so in the original case.

He also pointed out that Stokes had been in what he claimed was a serious car crash the day before the finger injury.

He said a doctor known to Stokes had agreed in the first case that it would be more probable a person in a serious accident wouldn't be going for a jog the following day.

He added that Stokes only put in the claim against SDCC for the fall after he had received a pay-out from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) for the car crash.

He said Stokes wasn't asked if he engaged in bare-knuckle boxing in the original case because they didn't have evidence then that he was. In the original case Stokes had said boxing was his main passion in life and he had to give it up after the accident.

"We said if it is the biggest thing in your life in Drimnagh Boxing Club then show us your cards. Show us your records of your fights, tell us about it. He couldn't tell us anything about it."

The case being heard before Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, Ms Justice Mary Faherty and Mr Justice Donald Binchy was adjourned until this Wednesday.

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