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Clare man hit with hammer cleared after headbutting assailant

A JUDGE has told two men involved in a boundary row that “life is too short for neighbours to be having disagreements”, writes Gordon Deegan.
Despite head-butting his 71-year-old neighbour, Rory Murphy (46), of Clifden, Corofin, was cleared unanimously by the jury at Ennis Circuit Court of assault causing harm.
Mr Murphy was acting in self defence, having been hit on the head with a hammer by John Fisher, also of Clifden, Corofin, on January 15, 2019.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan added his hope that “some of the issues between you can be resolved”.
At the end of the two-day trial, Judge O’Callaghan told Mr Murphy: “You came to court an innocent man and you leave this court today an innocent man.”
In a voluntary interview with Gardai, Mr Murphy did admit head-butting Mr Fisher at the boundary site but stated that this was in self defence after Mr Fisher hit him with a hammer across the head.
Mr Murphy of Clifden, Corofin, told Gardai in the interview that he struck Mr Fisher with a head-butt “because I had to do something because I was in fear of my life”.
In his closing speech to the jury, counsel for Mr Murphy, Pat Whyms BL stated: “Certainly if someone attacks you with a hammer, you are entitled to defend yourself.”
Mr Whyms stated that Mr Fisher’s account of the altercation “is preposterous”.
He stated that Mr Fisher’s evidence “was absolute poppycock and just ridiculous”.
In his interview with Gardai, Mr Murphy denied saying to Mr Fisher that he was “a dirty English b**t***’ and also denied threatening to kill him.
Mr Whyms stated that on the day, Mr Fisher’s act of erecting the fence was an attempt to obstruct the Murphys from accessing lands that in their minds they are entitled to access.
“They were not happy about that and wanted to confront Mr Fisher about it.”
The defence counsel added that the evidence provided by Mr Fisher in the case “was a mix of the bizarre and the downright false”.
He said that Mr Fisher some time after the altercation “admitted to hitting himself on the head with a hammer to see what it was like”.
Mr Whyms described this is as “bonkers” and “ludicrous nonsense”.
A native of Leicester and living at Clifden, Corofin for the past 25 years, Mr Fisher said because he was terrified and in fear of his life he hit Mr Murphy on the head three times with the hammer while Mr Murphy was on top of him.
He said: “It was not as hard as I could have – it was just ‘tap, tap, tap’.”
Mr Fisher said that the taps were “gentle”.
“I didn’t want to hurt him.”
Mr Fisher said that there was blood coming from Mr Murphy. The row was defused after Mr Fisher handed the hammer to Mr Murphy’s wife.

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