Samurai sword attack left man's arm 'dangling by a bit of skin'

Dundalk Circuit C ourt

Samurai sword attack left man's arm 'dangling by a bit of skin'
by court reporter editor@dundalkdemocrat.ie @dundalkdemocrat

A 27-year-old who denied attacking another man with a samurai sword was convicted at Dundalk Circuit Court last week following a two-day trial.

Gerard Soraghan, of Dunmahon, had pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm, at Greenacres, Avenue Road, on September 17th 2015.

The complainant in the case told the jury he had called to the home of the defendant's girlfriend to speak to him and that, after he knocked on the window, he claimed the accused tore out of the house with a sword and chased him.

The witness said he tripped and fell onto the ground, claiming the accused raised the weapon behind his back, and brought it straight down, hitting his left elbow after he’d raised his arm to protect himself.

The complainant described what hit him as 'a samurai sword shaped like a machete'. He said his arm was left dangling by the skin, and he underwent a number of surgeries, during which metal plates were inserted.

The witness added he now can’t straighten out his left arm and is still on pain killers and will know in March if he needs further surgery.

During cross examination by the Defence, the complainant confirmed he was playing cards in the centre of Dundalk when he received a call to say the accused and another man were carrying or waving samurai swords in Greenacres.

He said he went to Gerard Soraghan’s girlfriend's "not to cause trouble’’ but to find out why he allegedly smashed his windows days beforehand, although the jury heard the defendant was never charged in relation to that.

When asked why he had sought the accused after hearing he allegedly had a sword, the witness said “I didn’t think he was capable of doing what he did. I’ve known him for years”.

The alleged victim said Gerard Soraghan and another man had both come out of the house with swords but he said he’d never seen the other person before.

When the Defence barrister pointed out this was late at night and two men were chasing him with swords, the complainant said he was ‘a million per cent’ certain it was the accused who assaulted him.

A garda, who was flagged down on the night, told how when he went into the complainant’s home and found him lying on a couch in the sitting room bleeding heavily from his left arm.

The jury heard that, after he was arrested, Gerard Soraghan denied any involvement in the assault, and said that his mother or his girlfriend could account for where he was that night.

He said he had no interaction with the man that day and he had no disagreement with him. The accused said he had heard on the radio that “something had happened on the Avenue Road” and that it was “a horrific attack”.

The court heard the alleged victim’s friend and a number of other witnesses declined to make statements to the gardaí, who were unable to identify the second man at the scene.

In his closing speech on Thursday, Prosecutor Kevin Segrave told the jury the complainant was out socialising when he got word that the defendant and another person were walking around with samurai swords.

While that gave cause for concern, Mr. Segrave said the man obviously didn’t feel in danger as he’s known the accused for years and did not feel a need to arm himself.

Mr. Segrave claimed the medical evidence proved the harm aspect of the charge, but added it also offered assistance in terms of what happened when the samurai sword was brought down – leaving an 18 centimetre wound and fractured bone¸ which he said indicated a substantial weapon was used.

Defence counsel Irene Sands told the jury that, before convicting her client, they have to be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that he was at the Avenue Road and he alone was the man who injured the complainant. Ms Sands pointed out the complainant had been drinking and playing cards when someone in his company got a call to say two men were walking around Greenacres with samurai swords and, rather than stay put or go home, he decided to seek out the men.

She argued that new pieces of information had emerged for the first time during her cross examination of the man which he had not given in direct evidence – including the phone call about the men walking around Greenacres, and that the second man also had a sword.

She also asked why the man’s friend had not come to court to give evidence in support of him, arguing that it comes down to the evidence of a civilian witness and asked the jury if they could rely on his evidence alone.

The jurors - six men and six women - took over two and a half hours to reach the verdict, which was delivered by a majority of 10 to 2.

Judge Michael O’Shea adjourned sentencing until the next sitting of the court on the 25th of April and remanded the defendant in continuing custody.

At the request of the Defence, he directed the preparation of a Probation report, as well as a urinalysis report and a report by the Governor of Wheatfield prison.