Belfast Telegraph

"Untold difficulties" for David Healy over assault allegation, court told

By Alan Erwin

An assault allegation against Northern Ireland football star David Healy is causing "untold difficulties" to his career, a judge heard today.

The record international goalscorer attended Belfast Magistrates' Court to contest claims that he attacked a man in the city centre.

But the hearing was adjourned amid scathing criticism of preparation efforts made by police and the prosecution.

Deputy District Judge Joe Rice said the viability of proceeding with the case should now be reviewed.

Healy, from Killyleagh, Co Down, is accused of assaulting James Geroid Crossan in May last year.

The 33-year-old former Manchester United and Glasgow Rangers striker, who was most recently released by Bury FC, denies the charge and is claiming self-defence, the court heard.

Dressed in a dark suit and purple tie, he arrived in court after travelling from England to fight the case against him.

Problems arose, however, after his barrister tried to have an alleged caution given to the complainant for assault on police introduced as bad character evidence.

Following initial confusion it was confirmed that details of the incident were on the police system under a different name.

Judge Rice was told a file containing full information was not immediately available.

"All I'm getting is obfuscation," he said.

"The facts and issues surrounding the injured party's previous criminal record have not been properly addressed.

"I think the response of the police and the Public Prosecution Service so far fall short of the high standards required by the court."

Even though the judge decided the hearing could not proceed, defence counsel Richard McConkey stressed his client's need to have proceedings dealt with.

"The problem from Mr Healy's perspective is that as far as his career is concerned this case is causing him untold difficulties," the barrister said.

But Judge Rice insisted there must be complete fairness and protection of rights.

"Mr Healy comes here with a completely clear record," he pointed out.

"He has his rights as a defendant, and the benefit of the presumption of innocence."

Describing the situation as "far from ideal", he added: "I think the viability of this case proceeding should be reviewed by senior PPS people."

The footballer, who has scored 34 international goals and also played for Leeds United, Fulham and Sunderland, was excused from attending a further review hearing next month.

Belfast Telegraph


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