Clongowes rugby players avoid jail term for role in mass brawl

Two rugby players from a prestigious private school who were involved in a mass brawl which left a youth with a broken leg have avoided a jail term.

Scott Flood Wiley (aged 21) and Evan Lewis (aged 22) were out celebrating their school, Clongowes Wood College, winning the Leinster Schools Cup when they took part in a fight involving around 20 young men.

Scott Flood Wiley (left) and Evan Lewis (right). Pictures: Courtpix/Collins Courts

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that gardaí were later able to identify the youths by going through the Clongowes yearbook and finding their pictures.

Flood Wiley of Adelaide Street, Dun Laoghaire and Lewis of Coppinger Close, Stillorgan but originally from Ennis in Clare pleaded guilty to affray on Lower Rathmines Road on March 20, 2011.

Garda Mary Brophy told prosecuting counsel Roisin Lacy BL that a large number of current and former Clongowes students were in Tram Co nightclub in Rathmines celebrating the school’s recent win in the rugby competition.

Another group of youths including Graham Bennett and Ryan Hatfield were in the same club celebrating a 21stbirthday.

Mr Hatfield was involved in a verbal row with some Clongowes students in the smoking area before his group left the club and went to a nearby chipper. They again ran into the group of students who began shouting abuse at them.

Mr Hatfield’s group walked on until he “felt a dig in his right ear”. A fight then broke out between the two groups.

Mr Bennett fell to the ground during the struggle. He was unable to stand up afterwards and heard a “popping sound” when he tried. He was taken to hospital where he was found to have a “Bosworth fracture” to his leg.

Flood Wiley and Lewis’s defence counsel both said their clients had nothing to do with causing Mr Bennett’s injuries and this was accepted by the prosecution.

Judge Carmel Stewart discharged both men on condition that they keep the peace for two years, under the 1907 Probations of Offenders Act. If they breach the peace in that period they can appear before the court again to be sentenced.

She said she was doing this due to the character and nature of both men, the extenuating circumstances and time since the offence took place.

They will both have a conviction which will they will have to bear for the rest of their lives, she noted.

Judge Stewart said that this was a serious public order offence and that this type of incident was all too common on our city streets. She told both men they had put themselves and their families through an ordeal.

She said: “There was considerable ambiguity as to who did what on the night”.

She noted that both men had expressed remorse over their part in the melee.

Both handed in a reference from the headmaster of Clongowes college.

Lewis handed in references from a retired garda sergeant and retired army commandant.

Gardaí identified some of those involved by consulting the Clongowes yearbook and six months later Flood Wiley and Lewis were arrested.

Flood Wiley told gardaí he may have punched somebody but denied kicking or stamping on anyone.

Lewis, who came to the garda station voluntarily before his arrest, claimed he got a slap as he left the club and then pushed another male who was attacking his friend.

Flood Wiley has three previous convictions for theft, drug possession and a road traffic matter. Lewis has not been in trouble with the gardaí aside from this incident.

Counsel for Flood Wiley, Michael Bowman BL, said his client graduated from school and now studies and teaches English in Spain. He said he was a “decorated and honoured” rugby player with his school.

He said he foolishly got involved in the fight “out of misplaced loyalty” and will now have a conviction for the rest of his life.

Breffni Gordon BL, representing Lewis, said he was a keen sportsman who has now completed his degree in UCD and intends to go on to complete a masters. Counsel said he intends to go into law and this conviction will “trip him up at every stage of his life.”

Mr Gordon handed in several references attesting to Lewis’s popularity and honesty including one from the headmaster of Clongowes.

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