A TV fitness instructor has been found guilty of punching his model ex-girlfriend in the face in front of their two children after she confronted him over a fling.
Victim Emma Murphy made a video about the ordeal which went viral on the internet and appeared days later on ITV’s Loose Women in the hope of inspiring domestic abuse survivors to come forward.
Famous trainer Francis Usanga, 31, yesterday was told he could face up to 12 months in prison after he was found guilty of assaulting Ms Murphy.
Pictured: Francis Usanga (left) has been found guilty of punching his ex-girlfriend Emma Murphy (right)
Ms Murphy told the trial if she hadn’t spoken out she would have remained in an abusive relationship with Usanga, 31, of Lanesboro, Finglas, Dublin.
Her ex-partner, a former fitness expert on RTÉ’s Today show, denied he caused harm to the model and blogger.
The attack took place while they had a row outside his former workplace at FX Fitness gym in Santry, north Dublin, on July 3, 2015, Dublin District Court was told.
In evidence, Ms Murphy told Judge Bryan Smyth that Usanga was the father of her two young children.
She said they had been in a relationship for three-and-a-half years, and described this relationship as ‘really bad, toxic’.
On the day in question, 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.
Pictured: Emma Murphy (right) told the trial yesterday that if she hadn’t spoken out she would have remained in an abusive relationship with Usanga, 31, of Lanesboro, Finglas, Dublin
She said he had told her to ‘f*** off’ after she asked for his phone.
She told the court there had been ‘a crazy amount of cheating going on’ and that she wanted to call one of his friends to ask him if Usanga had been with him over the previous 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 he gave her a phone and that she went outside with it, and discovered more cheating.
‘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.
In the aftermath of the attack, mother-of-two Emma Murphy made a video about her ordeal which went viral on the internet, and she also appeared in ITV’s Loose Women
She said she was hit on her left eye and was ‘distraught’. She said her children, then aged six months 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 said she drove away, and that her brother Carl later took photos of her injuries.
In cross-examination with defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe, it was put to her that Usanga had been a celebrity, and that she broke into his Facebook account to tell his 10,000 followers she had been assaulted by him and ‘that was the type of person he was’.
She agreed she shared a video.
The defence suggested this was 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.’
In evidence, Usanga – who is currently unemployed, the court heard yesterday – claimed he was in fear for his life of Ms Murphy.
He said: ‘I felt my life was in danger’ – and maintained that he used his hands to push her away.
However, Judge Smyth did not accept his claim that he pushed her away because he was in fear of her, or the argument that this was justifiable force.
In evidence, Usanga – who is currently unemployed, the court heard yesterday – claimed he was in fear for his life of Ms Murphy. Pictured above, Usanga (right) acting in an Irish drama
Sentencing was adjourned to allow Ms Murphy to prepare a victim-impact statement in writing.
Ms Murphy was hugged by relatives and supporters as the judge gave his verdict, and the case was adjourned to a date next month.
She said: ‘He told me I was paranoid, I was psycho’
Emma Murphy filmed the emotional video of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Usanga as her son Xavier played behind her. This is an edited transcript:
‘I’VE been thinking long and hard, and contemplating whether to post this video… I finally decided … that… I need to do this for me and my children.
‘I’ve been in a relationship for three and a half years with a guy I thought was the love of my life…Unfortunately, last year, I found out he cheated on me with one of his clients… I loved him so much that I tried to forgive him and I gave him another chance. [But] I found out he did it again.
‘…So I went to the gym and I confronted him, and he denied it of course. When I threw his phone, he punched me in the face. And it wasn’t the first time. Last year, he split my head open.
‘At an event prior to that, he punched me and I had a black eye. And for the last year and a half, I’ve been told I’m paranoid, I’m psycho, my insecurities will kill me.
He punched me and I had a black eye. And for the last year and a half, I’ve been told I’m paranoid, I’m psycho, my insecurities will kill me
‘… I finally realised that, no, this is not acceptable. No man has any right to put his hand on a woman. I’ve had the courage to walk away and to go straight to the people who love me. So now I’m a single mother-of-two… Our lives are torn apart. And they’re going to know their daddy hit their mammy.
‘So if anyone has gone through anything similar… you need… to find the courage and get away from it. More often than not, if it happens once – it will happen again.’
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 Ms Murphy would like to receive some compensation for what happened.
In the days after the attack Ms Murphy uploaded a video to Facebook and Youtube speak out about her ordeal.