A criminal defence solicitor accused of attacking and harassing a former colleague in Dublin described the case as a “fine piece of fiction” in court on Friday.
Cahir O’Higgins, 46, whose practice is based at Dublin’s Parkgate Street, was charged earlier with assault causing harm to solicitor Stephen O’Mahony who suffered a facial injury in an incident at Wolfe Tone Quay, Dublin on February 11th last.
The offence is contrary to section three of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.
He was granted €300 bail at Dublin District Court on February 20th and had made no reply when gardai charged him.
The DPP directed “trial on indictment” in the circuit court which has tougher sentencing powers and in June three additional charges were brought against Mr O’Higgins.
Book of evidence
One of them was for harassing Mr O’Mahony from June 25th, 2020 until February 11th this year. He also had two new charges for minor assaults on Mr O’Mahony at the Criminal Courts of Justice Building on January 15th and December 14th last.
Mr O’Higgins appeared again at Dublin District Court on Friday when he was served with a copy of the prosecution’s book of evidence by Detective Garda Niall Cadden.
Judge Treasa Kelly acceded to State’s request to make a return for trial order, in relation to the assault causing harm and harassment charges. The minor assault allegations will be added to the indictment at a later stage.
She warned Mr O’Higgins that he must notify the prosecution if he intended to use an alibi in his defence.
He confirmed that he had been furnished with the book of evidence, which he described as “a fine piece of fiction”, and that he understood the charges and bail conditions.
Judge Kelly granted then trial order sending Mr O’Higgins forward to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Criminal Court where the case will be listed on November 11th next.
When the additional charges were brought in June the court heard the solicitor made a two-page reply. The court was told that in part of his response to the harassment charge, Mr O’Higgins had said: "You are charging me with harassment to create a misleading narrative of something sinister, unsavoury and malicious, when it is nothing of the sort. This was a commercial dispute and one punch in the most exhausting of circumstances, not harassment.”
He also described how the complainant had been a trusted friend and employee.
In reply to the minor assault charges, Mr O’Higgins alleged “vile” things had been said to him that triggered a reaction, and he believed he was going to be assaulted.
He told the detective: “I was defending myself and had reason to believe it was necessary to do so” and the injury to the complainant's nose was “completely unintentional”.
In 2017, Mr O’Higgins was the highest paid legal aid solicitor in the country and over the past decade has been among the top earners from the scheme.
Mr O’Mahony had worked at the defendant’s firm for several years until 2020, when he established his own practice in Dublin, with offices on Camden Street.