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'He straight up punched me': TV fitness instructor found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend

Francis Usanga was accused of causing harm to model and blogger Emma Murphy.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

TV FITNESS INSTRUCTOR Francis Usanga has been found guilty of attacking his former partner who told a court she was punched in the face when she confronted him about cheating.

In the aftermath of the attack, mother-of-two Emma Murphy made video about her ordeal which went viral on the internet and she appeared in ITV’s Loose Women.

She told a trial today that if she hadn’t spoken out she would have remained in an abusive relationship with Usanga.

Her former partner, Usanga a 31-year-old Dubliner and former Today Show fitness expert was accused of assault causing harm to model and blogger Emma Murphy, which he had denied. Usanga, with an address at Lanesboro, Finglas, went on trial before Judge Bryan Smyth at the Dublin District Court.

“Really bad, toxic”

The court was told she was punched in the face and left with a black eye after she confronted him about cheating.

Judge Smyth did not accept the fitness instructor’s claim he pushed her away because he was in fear of her or the argument that this was justifiable force.

He had also told the court that he was surprised by her injuries which he thought was make-up.

Sentencing was adjourned to allow Murphy prepare a victim impact statement in writing.

The attack took place while they had a row outside his former workplace at FX Fitness gym in Santry in north Dublin on 3 July in 2015, Judge Smyth was told.

In evidence, Murphy told Judge Smyth that Usanga was the father of her two young children and they had been in a relationship for three and a half years which she described as “really bad, toxic”.

On the day, she went with her children in the car to the gym where he worked to talk to him about their relationship and his cheating, she said.

She asked him if there was a girl in the gym and he said “no”, she told the court. She said there was a “loads of verbal abuse” and he had told her to “fuck off” after she asked for his phone.

She told the court there had been “a crazy amount of cheating going on” and she wanted to call one of his friends to ask him if Usanga had been with him over the previous Father’s Day weekend.

She said she needed to get to the bottom of it “because it was not fair on me, it was not fair on my children”. She said at the gym he gave her a phone and she went outside with it and she claimed she discovered more cheating.

“He straight up punched me”

“I said, ‘you cheated on me again’,” she told the court. She said she was disgusted and threw the phone in his direction and he then punched her in the face. “He straight up punched me with his hand, his fist”, she said.

She told the court she was hit on her left eye and was “utterly distraught”. She said her children, then aged six and 18 months, were in the car. “It was bad enough that he was cheating and then it came to another black eye,” she said.

She told Judge Smyth her former partner said “you broke my fucking phone” and as he went to pick it up she got in her car and drove away. Her eye was swelling and going red at the time, she recalled. She said she put ice on it and her brother Carl took photos of her injuries.

In cross-examination with defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe, she agreed she had thought Usanga had been unfaithful. He put it to her that this angered her but she replied she was “very emotional”.

She admitted it was possible that she was angry.

The court heard they had an earlier meeting that day at the Ikea car park in north Dublin. She accepted that Usanga agreed to meet here there because he did not want her making a scene at the gym.

She rejected several claims put to her by the defence: that when she got there she was confrontational and angry and forced him to leave in his car and she sped after him in her own car with her children on board and tried to cut him off at the gates. “I did not try to cut him off,” she said.

It was suggested to her that she intended to frighten him and she said she was extremely emotional, “absolutely all over the place”.

She said she drove down a one way street while he was going in the other direction but she did note try to cut him off at a gate. She said she then went to the gym to sort out their domestic matter not for another confrontation.

The solicitor put it to her that she could not be placated and Usanga eventually gave her the phone she demanded. He suggested to her that she confronted him again but she replied, “I simply threw the phone, I could not take any more”.

She denied that she “came at him” and said the phone was thrown in his direction.

She answered “not true” when the defence put it to her that Usanga had pushed her with the palms of his hands. “I was punched in the face because I threw the phone,” she said.

Asked why she later told a doctor that she could not recall whether she was struck with an open or closed fist, she said she was in shock at the time.

It was put to her that he had been a celebrity and she broke into his Facebook account telling his 10,000 followers she had been assaulted by him and “that was the type of person he was”. She agreed that she shared a video.

The defence suggested this an attempt to “destroy him” but she replied, “it was my attempt to get out of an abusive relationship, if I had not I would probably still be there.”

His solicitor said that while she said she was “all over the place” in 2015 she was still able to do talk on TV and radio. “Sharing a story can help other women,” she answered.

In the witness box she held up a photo of her injuries and said, “This is me, this is my black eye”.

Her brother Carl took photos of her later that day and in evidence he said she had a black eye and was shaking, upset and emotional.

“I felt my life was in danger”

Usanga, in evidence, claimed he was in fear for his life of Murphy and during the earlier meeting at Ikea she drove towards his car “and feigned to hit me but stopped at the last second”. He described her as angry and raging and after she threw the phone at him, “I felt my life was in danger”.

He pushed her away, he maintained. “I used my hands to push her away, I didn’t know what she was going to do,” he claimed.

A former BScene model, he also appeared in Jennifer Maguire’s dating series, One Night Stand, in 2010. He formerly worked at FX Fitness, in Santry, north Dublin but the court heard today that he is currently unemployed.

He told the trial that at the time of the incident he had not reached the pinnacle of his career and was not yet “worldwide” but just “a local health and fitness guy in Ireland”.

“I pushed her to stop attacking me,” he claimed.

Asked by the prosecution solicitor he was surprised by the injuries she suffered he said, “Yes, because I thought it was make-up”.

He showed no emotion as the judge gave his verdict while his former partner with her head bowed was hugged by her family members and supporters at the back of the courtroom. The offence at district court level can carry a 12-month prison sentence.

Pleading for leniency, the defence solicitor asked the judge to note that Usanga has already “suffered immeasurably” and has no prior convictions for this type of offence.

Judge Smyth also asked Garda Inspector Michael Mulligan, who was in charge of the investigation, to see if Murphy would like to receive some compensation for what happened.

In the days after the attack Murphy uploaded a video to Facebook and Youtube speaking out about her ordeal. It went viral and as a result she gave numerous media interviews including an appearance on ITV’s Loose Women in the UK.

Comments have been closed as the case remains before the courts

Read: Trial begins of TV fitness instructor accused of assaulting model ex-girlfriend

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Tom Tuite

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