Belfast Telegraph

Ex-school teacher convicted for 'crazy' attack on man over blocked driveway

By Alan Erwin

A former school teacher was convicted today of attacking a man in a foul-mouthed rage at having his driveway blocked.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard Dominic Marsella "went crazy" and punched Conor Friel up to five times after the victim's mother parked outside his home.

The 66-year-old also subjected Mrs Friel to a torrent of obscene abuse and flicked a cigarette at her son during the confrontation in the north of the city, a judge was told.

Marsella, with an address on the Antrim Road, was found guilty of common assault and disorderly behaviour.

He contested the charges against him, claiming instead to have suffered a fractured skull after being struck during the incident in April 2012.

The court heard Josephine Friel, who lives in a neighbouring street, obstructed Marsella's drive when she pulled up in a car on Chichester Avenue.

Her son was in a second car being taken to a mechanics.

It was claimed that Marsella emerged from his house and got into his own car, shouting expletives and revving his engine.

Mr Friel told how the defendant started to reverse before getting out and coming at him.

"He just saw red, he just went crazy," he said.

According to Mr Friel he hit back in self-defence, but denied defence claims that he landed up to eight blows on Marsella.

"It was honest to God fight or flight," he said.

His mother accepted she had blocked the defendant's drive but insisted she had assured him the car was being moved.

"He said 'Will you move your f****** car', that was repeated and repeated and repeated," she told the court.

"I said 'I'm going, I'm going', I just wanted to get out of there as I recognised this gentleman is out of his head, this is not a normal reaction."

According to her account Marsella and her son then "collided" in a scuffle before she pulled Mr Friel away.

Rejecting defence counsel Sean Mullan's contention that her version of events was fabricated, she added: "It was a surreal experience and I was thoroughly frightened if you must know.

"I felt this man was dangerous."

A neighbour who witnessed the incident while out with her two young children claimed Marsella directed "loud and aggressive" obscene language at Mrs Friel.

Rosaleen McCann told the court: "He said 'Are you f****** with me, you c***, you whore?"

She alleged that the defendant punched Mr Friel between three and five times before any attempt was made to fight back.

Mrs McCann also backed claims that Marsella flicked a cigarette at the victim.

But he denied any such action, insisting: "I don't drink and drive, and I don't smoke and drive. I didn't have a cigarette in my hand and I wouldn't flick a cigarette at anyone."

Marsella told District Judge Amanda Henderson he politely asked Mrs Friel to move her car before her son arrived and grabbed him. 

Claiming the prosecution witnesses had conspired to lie against him, he insisted: "I'm the injured party here. He (Mr Friel) hadn't a mark on his face."

But Judge Henderson convicted him of assault and disorderly behaviour after pointing to the independent account from Mrs McCann.

"Her evidence bears out that alleged by the injured party and his mother," she said.

Dismissing a separate threat to kill charge, the judge requested reports before passing sentence at a later date.

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