By Gordon Deegan

A 71-year old Englishman told a court that his Co. Clare neighbour repeatedly called him names in relation to his nationality, before assaulting him.

At Ennis Circuit Court, John Fisher said that he was “fearing for my life” during the boundary row with ‘trespasser’, 46-year-old Rory Murphy on January 15, 2019 at Clifden outside the Burren village of Corofin.

Rory Murphy of Clifden, Corofin denies the charge of assault causing harm and on the first day of evidence in the case before a jury, John Fisher said that Murphy was “in a rage” when he came upon him erecting a fence on Fisher’s land boundary.

Fisher said that he found himself on the ground with Murphy on top of him.

Evidence in Clare land dispute case

A native of Leicester in the UK and living at Clifden, Corofin for the past 25 years, John Fisher told the court: “I was terrified.”

Fisher claimed that Murphy “threatened to kill me” and that he himself had a hammer in his hand from erecting the fence.

Fisher stated that he managed to raise his arm and hit Murphy on the head three times with the hammer.

He said: “It was not as hard as I could have – it was just ’tap, tap, tap’,” adding that the taps were “gentle – I didn’t want to hurt him”.

Fisher said that he saw blood coming from Rory Murphy.

Assault over boundary

John Fisher said that there was stalemate between himself and Rory Murphy on the ground “for around 10 minutes”.

He said that he gave the hammer to Murphy’s wife at the scene which helped defuse the situation and Murphy let him back on his feet.

Fisher said that he gathered his work tools and left the scene and went to his local Garda station and Gardaí called an ambulance for Fisher and he was brought to hospital.

Fisher told the jury that the main injury he sustained in the assault was to his nose.

Counsel for Rory Murphy, barrister Pat Whyms said that his client denies that he engaged in abusive language towards Fisher and also denies threatening to kill Fisher.

The barrister said that it is Rory Murphy’s instructions that Fisher struck the first blow in the encounter, when he struck his client on the head with the hammer.

Pat Whyms said: “As a result of that, he had to defend himself and he headbutted you and that is how ye ended up on the ground.”

Fisher denied that this was the case.

Access to land boundary

Murphy’s barrister said that Fisher erecting the fence was an attempt to obstruct the Murphys from accessing lands that, in their minds, they are entitled to access.

Whyms stated: “They were not happy about that and wanted to confront you about it.”

In response, Fisher stated: “They had no right of way and were trespassers on my land.”

In a voluntary interview with Gardaí, Murphy confirmed that an altercation did occur between himself and John Fisher and denied calling him names in relation to his nationality.

Murphy said that he headbutted Fisher after being hit by the hammer “because I had to do something because I was in fear of my life”.

The Clare land dispute trial continues today at Ennis Circuit Court.