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Irish dance competiton leads to broken cheek and court case

An Irish dance-off competition ended up with one reveller hospitalised with a broken cheek and his competitor in court for injuring him by recklessly swinging his elbows in the air.

Sales manager David Hughes was having a dance-off with Northern Ireland student Ruaidhri Donaghy at a club in Newcastle Upon Tyne when trouble flared.

Mr Hughes thought the Belfast man was a professional dancer whose fancy feet had made him a familiar figure in Newcastle’s pubs and clubs.

But Donaghy was actually a keen amateur and a student studying in the city.

After the pair got too close at Madame Koo’s bar in the city, Mr Hughes was caught by Donaghy’s elbow as the student swung his arms about to the tune of the Irish jig.

And at the city’s Crown Court prosecutor Melinda Blackburn said words were exchanged by the two dancers and Mr Hughes was caught by Donaghy’s elbow.

Mrs Blackburn said: “Once he was home he looked in the mirror and could see his left eye was starting to blacken and his cheek looked collapsed.”

Mr Hughes went to hospital where X-rays confirmed his cheek was broken and he later underwent surgery to have the fracture repaired with a four inch metal plate and pin — an operation which left him temporarily disfigured. Donaghy was given a 12-month community order with 100 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £500 compensation after admitting grievous bodily harm on the basis of recklessness. Donaghy was also ordered to £500 court costs. A defending lawyer said Donaghy had been irritated at being mistaken for this Irish dancer.

Donaghy, 23, now living in Buston Terrace, Jesmond, in the north east, had a previous caution for assault in Northern Ireland and was also given a fixed penalty notice for clashing with a stranger as he left Madame Koo’s on the night Mr Hughes was injured.

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