Tourist 'saw man put fist through €10m Monet painting'

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A New Zealand tourist says he witnessed the moment a man 'put his fist through' a €10 million Claude Monet painting at the National Gallery Of Ireland.

Michael Williams and his wife Dr Toni Ashton flew all the way over from NZ to give evidence over the incident at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Andrew Shannon, 48, of Ongar, Dublin, denies causing criminal damage to the oil painting on 29 June 2012.

The painting, called Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, dates back to 1874 and is the only Monet painting in a public collection in Ireland.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Williams said: "Out of the side of my eye I saw this man lift his fist and put it through the painting. To me, it was clearly what he wanted to do."

"He said to me he was feeling faint. I grabbed him straight after the event and he had his excuse ready to go. I couldn't help but feel that it was planned."

According to the Irish Times, Ms Ashton said that he seemed "out of it", adding: "He seemed to lunge at the painting with quite a lot of force in the body."

CCTV footage played at the court showed Mr Shannon entering the Millennium Wing of the National Gallery carrying a yellow plastic bag, that was later found to contain a can of Nitromors paint stripper.

Brendan Grehan SC, defending, said his client has a history of heart problems, but accepts that the damage to the painting was caused by his hand.

The trial is due to last until Friday.

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