Former world boxing champion Eamonn Loughran, who lost tens of thousands of pounds in a £4m overseas alleged holiday home scam, is being sued for punching the Northern Ireland businessman at the centre of the alleged fraud.
Property tycoon Kevin O’Kane yesterday launched civil action against the ex-world welterweight champion for damages after he was hit in the face by Mr Loughran during an argument over the alleged scam that saw dozens of people receiving “fake deeds” for holiday apartments in Turkey that they had paid up to £80,000 for.
During a civil hearing in Coleraine County Court Mr O’Kane — who has denied any wrongdoing in the alleged fraud, which is still under investigation by police in Turkey and the PSNI — said he had to receive stitches to his face, lip and back of his head after he was punched by Mr Loughran.
Mr O’Kane, who is seeking compensation from the former boxer, said that ever since the attack in July 2007 he has suffered from frequent headaches and is at times forgetful.
Mr Loughran, however, told the court that he struck out in self-defence, claiming that the Bellaghy property developer had attempted to headbutt him.
The incident occurred after Mr Loughran, who lost £75,000 in the holiday homes scheme, confronted Mr O’Kane in Turkey.
Mr Loughran was on holiday in the resort of Gumbet with his wife and son when he arranged to meet Mr O’Kane to discuss the holiday home deal.
The third meeting between the pair became heated and Mr O’Kane said the former boxer punched him in the face, knocking him over onto the pavement.
He told the court that just before the incident Mr Loughran had asked him to visit a local estate agent with him to try and “talk the situation through”.
“I didn't see any harm in it so I went with him. They started asking me about the deals and I told them it was being dealt with by the police. The agent started questioning me about it. I said ‘you don’t know anything about it’,” Mr O’Kane told the court.
He added: “Mr Loughran started saying that I had stolen his money. I just got up to go out of the office. He just kept shouting that I stole his money.
“I walked out to go to the car to go back home. I was walking out and Mr Loughran called my name.
“As I looked around I was hit on the face and stumbled to the ground ... the side of my head struck the kerb on the footpath ... I just wanted to get offside. I was afraid of getting hit again.”
But Mr Loughran told the court that during the meeting with the estate agent, which he said he arranged in the hope of getting some of his money back, Mr O’Kane became “frustrated” and “angry”.
He said Mr O’Kane jumped up and kicked his chair away and started shouting at him and the agent. Mr Loughran said he shouted back and they were both asked to leave the office.
He said the argument continued outside and that Mr O’Kane then tried to headbutt him.
“When we were outside I told him he was a thief and a liar and he saw red. He went for me in the form of a headbutt.
“I stepped my body back and I glanced him with my left fist, I am right handed, and he just fell over.
“I caught him off balance. It was a glancing blow just to put him off balance,” said Mr Loughran.
Deputy County Court Judge Edgar reserved judgment in the case until he reviews the evidence.