A Down GAA star who sustained a fractured skull in an assault over Christmas has been questioned about his knowledge of a glass bottle being thrown towards a disabled man triggering the incident.
Caolan Mooney and his brother Patrick Mooney were assaulted in an altercation. Newry magistrates court was told it started after glass from a smashed bottle injured the eye of a wheelchair user known to the defendants.
Former Down Minor star, Caolan Mooney moved to Australia in 2011 to play Australian Rules for Melbourne side Collingwood, returning to Ireland three years later to re-join the Down senior squad.
The Down man was treated in the Royal Victoria Hospital for a fractured skull whilst his brother was attended to for a broken nose in on street brawl.
Lee McKay (37) with an address of Drumalane Park, Newry is charged with attempted grievous bodily harm with intent and affray on December 30, 2019.
Co-accused Ruairi Connolly (35) of School Meadow, Newtownhamilton is charged with grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray in the early hours of the same date on Merchants Quay, Newry.
A bail variation to allow Mr McKay to return to Australia, where he has lived for the last 10 years, was objected to by a PSNI officer for risk of flight.
The entire altercation was said to have been captured by CCTV, and as such when the medical reports have been completed the “straight forward, but serious case” could be “wrapped up quite quickly”.
“However, we are in the hands of the doctors awaiting the reports,” said prosecution.
Defence solicitor, Gerard Treanor cross examined the police officer and asked if the complainant in the case had been charged with anything.
The officer stated that “the other man” had been interviewed, but not charged.
Mr Treanor highlighted that Patrick Mooney, had since left the jurisdiction and moved to California, USA, and therefore Mr McKay should be afforded the same courtesy.
Mr McKay’s parents put forward the deeds to their house as well as offering to sign surety for their son to vary his bail.
“My client has been on bail since his first appearance in court, he now wishes to return to Australia to work pending any trial,” said defence.
“He is from Newry and came back home for Christmas.
“He has an entirely clear record. During police interview he was cooperative. The incident is manifest on CCTV.
“There was a bottle thrown from a crowd. It smashed beside a disabled man, who is in court today, it injured his eye.
“Mr McKay intervened into the crowd and remonstrated with Patrick Mooney.
“There are two complainants who are the alleged the injured parties, one of which threw the bottle.
“This (Mr McKay) is a decent man who has never been in trouble before,” added Mr Treanor.
District judge McGarrity refused the bail variation due to an inability to manage the defendant whilst in Australia. though suggested any delay in the case would add sympathy to a future application.
Both men were released on continuing bail with an appeal expected to take place for Mr McKay at the high court in the coming days.
The case was adjourned to February 19, for medical reports to be completed.