Direct marketer Gary Brown has agreed to pay €20,000 to St Vincent de Paul and escape a criminal conviction and the Probation Offenders Act after being found guilty of assault causing harm to former IRS boss John O’Connor at the An Post Direct Marketing Awards in May 2009. The incident occurred in the Mansion House after Brown’s company, RMG Target, won the agency of the year for the fourth year in a row.
Gary Brown agreed to pay €20,000 to St Vincent de Paul and donated €5,000 to Temple Street hospital
During his speech, Brown said: “I’d like to say it’s great to see new faces coming in like Acorn and other people making great videos that make us laugh each year, well done”. O’Connor interpreted Brown’s remarks as being a put-down, saying they were “disparaging to the awards”. The reference to the humorous videos relates to Strategem, a rival agency whose videos have become a talking point in the industry.
After the speech, O’Connor and Justin Cullen, both judges on the night, confronted Brown. They went to his table where Brown was seated with some clients. The men asked him to step outside the main room where a discussion followed. Brown told the two men to “f… off”, after which O’Connor called him “a knacker”. Brown punched O’Connor in the face and broke his nose. Witnesses for O’Connor said Brown punched him five times, but Brown’s three witnesses all claimed just one punch was thrown.
Other witnesses described the incident as “handbags” or a schoolyard brawl. Brown claimed the two men had been aggressive and that he only struck out in self-defence as he was about to be attacked. He told the court “I am not a thug”. He denied punching O’Connor on the ground. Brown said O’Connor described his victory speech as “f…ing loutish” and asked him “who the hell did he think he was”.
In finding Brown guilty of the offence as charged, Judge Ann Watkin said she was unconvinced by his evidence and denied he was under any threat. She described the offence as extremely serious but noted that Brown had been an “upstanding member of the community”, had shown remorse and had no previous convictions.
Brown’s barrister, Brendan Grehan SC, said his client had made a €5,000 donation to Temple Street hospital, nominated by O’Connor. He said Brown had sought advice to determine if he had an anger management problem – which proved negative. Brown admitted liability and paid €1,050 after a claim by O’Connor made through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. He also paid out €1,122 to cover witness expenses.
RMG Target is owned by the DDFH&B group. After a parting of ways with IRS (Independent Radio Sales) in 2009, arising from which he got an injunction to stop his dismissal, O’Connor settled the matter with the agency. He later founded WellClever online video services. Cullen is with Radical, the Publicis digital agency.