Former vice-chairperson of Strabane District council cleared of assault

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A former vice-chairperson of Strabane District Council has been cleared of assaulting a member of the local SDLP.

Michelle McMackin, 48, of O’Nolan Park, Strabane, who represents the Glenelly electoral area for Sinn Fein, had been charged with unlawfully assaulting SDLP constituency representative, Daniel McCrossan, and using disorderly behaviour in a licensed premises.

The incident occurred in The Farmer’s Home on July 6 last year.

McMackin's 57 year old brother, Malachy Finbar McCrossan, of Glenfinn Park, Strabane, also faced a charge of disorderly behaviour in the pub and of further assaulting the SDLP man in the Abercorn Square area of the town.

At the pair’s contest hearing at Strabane Courthouse yesterday,  Ms McMackin, was cleared of both charges. Malachy McCrossan was also cleared of the disorderly behaviour charge but was subsequently convicted of assaulting Daniel McCrossan.

Daniel McCrossan had alleged that Ms McMackin, had slapped him across the face during an exchange between himself and Malachy McCrossan over the Special Advisors Bill which had been passed at Stormont.

His claims that Ms McMackin slapped him were supported by two of his friends who were witnesses for the prosecution.

Ms McMackin strenuously denied Mr McCrossan’s version of events and contested that she had intervened between the pair in an effort to “diffuse” the situation but that she had been "jostled", tripped and fallen towards Daniel McCrossan, making contact with his lap.

Four other witnesses, including her co-accused and two “independent” male witnesses, testified that they had “at no time” witnessed Ms McMackin assault Mr McCrossan during the incident.

The District Judge said he found the testimonies of the two men “entirely independent”.

He subsequently acquitted the Strabane councillor of the assault, describing the incident in The Farmers Home as a “heated exchange” rather than disorderly.