Wednesday, November 09, 2022

High Court reporters

A man whose two front teeth were knocked out when he was hit with “a very dirty punch” from behind without warning in a late night bar has settled his High Court action against the pub.

Derek Harrison (38), an accountant from Childers Heights, Ballina, Co Mayo, sued the man who punched him, Desmond Rutledge, of the Arches, Foxford, Co Mayo. He also sued the bar owners, Eaglewell Ltd, trading as Brennans Bar of Ballina, over the incident on the night of December 23rd-24th, 2016.

Rutledge, the court heard, subsequently served a prison service as a result of the assault. In the civil case taken by Mr Harrison, judgement in default of an appearance was previously entered against Rutledge, his counsel Gerard M Clarke SC told the court.

The case against the bar went ahead before Mr Justice Michael Hanna on Wednesday but following talks over lunchtime, the judge was told it had been settled.

The case against the bar was that it allowed Rutledge, a “known troublemaker” who had been barred a year earlier, into the pub and therefore was negligent in failing to take any or any adequate precaution for Mr Harrison’s safety.

The bar denied the claims including that it was a reasonably foreseeable incident or that there was a failure to take reasonable steps to ensure his safety.

Home for Christmas

Earlier, Mr Clarke said Mr Harrison, an assistant vice president in recovery and resolution planning in Barclays Bank who now lives in Celbridge, Co Kildare, was home in Mayo for Christmas when he went to Brennans to meet his twin brother.

At around 2am, Rutledge approached him from the rear and suddenly struck him in the face causing him to fall to the ground.

Mr Harrison told his counsel he knew Rutledge “just by sight around the town but I would never have had any interaction with him”. He said having viewed the incident on the pub’s CCTV, it was a very severe punch.

The court heard he later required two dental implants to his front teeth, underwent root canal treatment and is still undergoing treatment. He had also suffered psychologically with post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks.

His counsel said while the pub had said it was not aware of any reason why the incident would have taken place, one of its bouncers gave a statement to gardai in which he said Rutledge was a known troublemaker who had been barred from the pub.

The bouncer said Rutledge met Mr Harrison with a sly and “very dirty punch from behind” and he did not even see it coming.

He also said Rutledge had not been noticed coming into the pub and was not there for long but staff had kept an eye on him. Staff hoped the night would pass without trouble “but it was too busy and we could not babysit him either”, the bouncer said.

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