foul play | 

Two Scottish footballers admit ‘appalling assault’ on ‘blameless’ victim after night out in Dublin

Adjourning the sentencing to January 20, 2023, Judge Crowe said the expression of remorse offered was not sufficient, given their work histories, to show the “level of sincerity warranted”.
Liam Callaghan, a footballer with Scottish side Montrose FC, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and inset co-accused Craig Johnston.  Photo:  Collins Courts

Liam Callaghan, a footballer with Scottish side Montrose FC, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and inset co-accused Craig Johnston. Photo: Collins Courts

Craig Johnston, a footballer with Scottish side Montrose FC, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for his case. PIC: Collins Courts

Craig Johnston, a footballer with Scottish side Montrose FC, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for his case. PIC: Collins Courts

Liam Callaghan, a footballer with Scottish side Montrose FC, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for his case. PIC: Collins Courts

Liam Callaghan, a footballer with Scottish side Montrose FC, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for his case. PIC: Collins Courts

Eimear DoddSunday World

Two semi-professional footballers from Scotland who carried out an “appalling assault” during a night out in Dublin will be sentenced in early 2023.

Liam Callaghan (27) and Craig Johnston (27) both pleaded guilty to assault causing harm and obstruction in Dublin City Centre on December 8, 2019.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the defendants, who are both semi-professional footballers with Scottish club Montrose FC, attacked the victim following an altercation at a night club.

Both defendants have addresses in Fyfe, Scotland. They are cousins and each have one previous conviction from Scotland.

Judge Orla Crowe said an “appalling assault” had been carried out on the victim who was “blameless” in relation to the defendants.

The defendants each offered €2,000 as a gesture of remorse, which the victim was willing to accept.

Adjourning the sentencing to January 20, 2023, Judge Crowe said the expression of remorse offered was not sufficient, given their work histories, to show the “level of sincerity warranted”.

Garda Emmet Hayde gave evidence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that on the night in question, the victim and his partner stopped at Xico on Baggot Street at around 1am for a drink before heading home after an evening out.

While at the bar, the victim was involved in an altercation with a colleague of Callaghan and Johnston and was asked to leave the bar.

The couple were walking on Lower Baggot Street towards St Stephen's Green to get a taxi at around 2am when the victim heard shouts behind him.

He turned around to see what was happening and was punched in the jaw by a man, who from CCTV footage appeared to be Callaghan.

A passer-by attempted to intervene to stop the assault.

Johnston then arrived and along with Callaghan, tried to get at the victim.

Craig Johnston, a footballer with Scottish side Montrose FC, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for his case. PIC: Collins Courts

Craig Johnston, a footballer with Scottish side Montrose FC, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for his case. PIC: Collins Courts

The passer-by took the victim down Ely Place to try to get away, but the defendants followed and continued their attack.

One of them picked up a traffic cone and swung it at the victim.

A garda public order unit was in the area and observed the assault.

They also saw one of the defendants hit the victim with a box, which caused his head to bounce off the ground.

The defendants attempted to flee, but were apprehended by gardai.

The victim was taken to hospital where he was treated for injuries to his face, lower leg and ankle. He required three surgeries to his ankle. His left eye socket was also fracured, but he sustained no serious injury to his eye.

Photos of the victim’s injuries and CCTV footage of the incident were shown to the court.

Prosecuting counsel read the victim impact statement to the court. The victim said his “Christmas was ruined” by the attack, which has also caused bouts of depression and anxiety in crowds.

The victim said he had missed opportunities to work abroad and suffered an economic loss of over €6,000 due to this incident.

Gda Hayde agreed with defence counsel that neither defendant has come to any negative garda attention since this incident. He also accepted that an altercation had taken place between the victim and a colleague of the defendants at Xico.

Gda Hayde told Karl Monahan BL, defending Callaghan, that gardai were not initially aware of the altercation at Xico.

Gardai also sought CCTV from Xico, but this was not available.

Liam Callaghan, a footballer with Scottish side Montrose FC, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for his case. PIC: Collins Courts

Liam Callaghan, a footballer with Scottish side Montrose FC, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for his case. PIC: Collins Courts

Mr Monahan read a letter to the court from the defendants’ colleague, who gave their account of the altercation at the bar.

Mr Monahan said this incident at Xico had been on Callaghan's mind, though his reaction was disproportionate.

Judge Crowe said Callaghan’s reaction was “completely disproportionate” as he had followed the victim onto a public street.

This individual was not known to investigating gardai until the morning of the hearing and had has not made a witness statement.

Callaghan took the stand and apologised directly to the victim on his and Johnston’s behalf for what happened.

Defence counsel said both Callaghan and Johnston are semi-professional footballers who also work full-time.

Both men were co-operative and have travelled from Scotland to attend court dates as required.

Callaghan and Johnston are both remorseful and sorry for their actions, which were out of character, the court was told.

Character references from the defendants' employers and Montrose FC were handed to the court.

Both defendants have recently signed contract extensions with the Scottish club.

The defendants had also lost a close friend in tragic circumstances in the months preceding this incident.

Judge Crowe adjourned the case to next year and said the court would like to see a “more concrete expression of remorse” from the defendants.


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