Cleared of striking man with hatchet

A jury returned a not guilty verdict in the case of a 32 year-old Dundalk man accused of striking another man from the same estate with a hatchet on the head.

A jury returned a not guilty verdict in the case of a 32 year-old Dundalk man accused of striking another man from the same estate with a hatchet on the head.

Gerard Rogan with an address at Crescent One, Muirhevnamor was acquitted by a majority decision on two charges of assault causing harm to Robert McGahon and producing the hatchet in the course of a dispute /fight.

The jury of six men and six women reached their verdict last wek out for over three hours at the end of a trial presided over by Judge Michael O’Shea which lasted three days.

Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court heard that the charges stemmed from an incident three years ago on the street at Crescent One in the early hours of April 30 2011. The accused claimed he fetched the hatchet from his parked van to “fend off” a group comprising members of the McGahon family.

The jury was told that Mr Rogan was stabbed with a knife during the incident and sustained a punctured lung and liver injuries in respect of which Gerard McGahon, father of Robert, was previously tried on charges of assault causing harm and producing a knife. He was found not guilty by direction of the Judge.

It was stated Robert McGahon and his sister Karen had been socialising at the local racecourse earlier in the night that the alleged offences occurred.

Robert McGahon and his sister Karen gave evidence they were in the latter’s house about 3am when Gerard Rogan walked by and started calling them outside.

Karen who stated she was upset over something that happened at the racecourse went outside followed by Robert. She accused Rogan of hitting her at the racecourse which he denied.

The injured party and his sister said that Gerard Rogan took the hatchet from a van parked nearby and struck Robert McGahon on the head and a tussle ensued between the two men.

Karen McGahon claimed the accused was aggressive and waved the hatchet over her head. Her brother asked the accused to put it down.

He hit her brother on the side of the face/head with the sharp edge.

The injured party said he went to the Louth Hospital the next day with a gash on his head and a sore jaw. He was referred to another hospital where he was x-rayed. His jaw was sore for three to four weeks.

Neighbours gave evidence of being awakened by the commotion on the street, and described what they saw.

Garda Christine Reevy said she spoke with the accused days after the incident in the Mater Hospital. He attended Dundalk Garda Station for interview subsequently on June 26.

He told Gardai that a group came towards him in a semi-circle trying to get round him. He backed off towards the van and ran to it and grabbed the first thing he could which was the hatchet. There were also other work utensils in the van.

The court heard he told Gardai that warned that the first person who came near him would get hit.

He swung the hatchet and missed Robert McGahon. The latter grabbed the hatchet and they swung digs at each other. The accused could feel digs from all angles. He felt his back getting warm and wet and knew he was stabbed.

The accused didn’t give evidence.