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Soldier found guilty of false imprisonment and assault in Irish barracks

'You are either leaving in the morning or leaving with broken ribs'

McKee Barracks in Dublin

Seán McCárthaigh

A soldier has been found guilty of assaulting and falsely imprisoning a fellow recruit at a military barracks in Limerick last year in an incident in which he was accused of trying to force a trainee to leave the Defence Forces because of his poor performance.

A court martial sitting in McKee Barracks in Dublin convicted Private Philip McCarthy of the false imprisonment of Trooper Jack Canty at an accommodation block at Sarsfield Barracks in Limerick on July 18, 2021.

He was also found guilty of two counts of assault on Trooper Canty during the same incident and three counts of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline contrary to the Defence Act 1954.

However, he was found not guilty of two separate charges of assault causing harm to his victim.

The ruling by military judge, Judge Michael Campion, followed a five-day trial earlier this month.

During the trial Trooper Canty, who is currently based in Collins Barracks in Cork, gave evidence about how he was lured to his room by another recruit before being attacked and suffering injuries to his neck and chest.

He described how Private McCarthy came into his room with four other recruits and asked him if he had “heard the good news”.

Trooper Canty said he was already aware that people were going around “giving beatings” to others so he knew what was coming.

He claimed Private McCarthy remarked: “You are either leaving in the morning or leaving with broken ribs” which he understood meant to leave the Defence Forces.

Trooper Canty said the accused also said he should leave because nobody liked him.

He gave evidence that Private McCarthy pulled him to the ground and started choking him on at least two occasions.

The trial heard Trooper Canty claim he could not breathe at all when he was put in a headlock by the accused and was seriously worried he was going to lose consciousness.

Trooper Canty estimated that the incident lasted less than 10 minutes with Private McCarthy remarking as he was leaving the room: “This is going to keep happening and it’s going to get worse until you leave.”

In evidence, Private McCarthy, who had denied all charges, said he had only gone into Trooper Canty’s room with two others to have a chat about his performance in training and to give him some advice.

In his ruling, Judge Campion said the accused in his defence had “concocted an entirely false narrative” and he believed the evidence of Trooper Canty and other prosecution witnesses.

The judge said he did not find the evidence of the defendant was “credible.”

Judge Campion said he was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Private McCarthy had played an instrumental part in the group which confronted the victim in his room.

He said the accused had denied Trooper Canty the opportunity to leave the room during a series of assaults over a number of minutes.

Finding the defendant not guilty on two counts of assault causing harm, Judge Campion said the evidence that abrasions on the victim’s neck were caused by Private McCarthy was “not conclusive”, while the evidence suggested injuries to his rib cage were caused by another individual.

However, he found the charges of assault in relation that Private McCarthy had forced Trooper Canty to the ground and placed him in a headlock were proven.

Judge Campion ordered Private McCarthy, who is due to get married next month, to appear before the court-martial on July 22 for a pre-sentencing hearing.

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