THREE men walked free from Limerick Circuit Court on Wednesday after a judge said he wanted to send out a “strong message against violent acts and gratuitous assaults carried out by cowards and bully-boys”.
Judge Tom O’Donnell made his remarks at the sentencing hearing of Cathal O’Brien (22), of The Cross, Ardagh; Shane Kelly (22), of Ballagh, Abbeyfeale and Deniss Permanickis (27) also of Ballagh, on charges of assault causing harm and violent disorder.
The victim, James O’Donnell, was set upon by the three men after he spoke to Permanickis’ girlfriend at Club Mission in Newcastle West on July 12, 2014.
The two had struck up a conversation about the girl’s plans to visit Australia when Permanickis and his friends became irate.
James O’Donnell left the night club after he lost contact with his friends but was seen by his three attackers who kicked and beat him while he lay defenceless on the ground.
In his victim impact statement, Mr O’Donnell said that he woke up in the back of an ambulance, beaten and bruised.
He required hospitalisation for a broken jaw, a fractured cheek bone, broken teeth, cuts and bruising to his head and damage to a tear duct in his eye.
The attack left serious psychological effects on the IT graduate who was unable to pursue a career in his field of study, had to give up sport, and was apprehensive when out on his own anywhere.
Permanickis told Gardaí he thought Mr O’Donnell was trying to “chance” his girlfriend, despite O’Donnell saying said that he didn’t know they were together.
At an earlier court hearing the three men, who all admitted their involvement to Gardaí, each offered €2,000 as “a sincere gesture of remorse”.
Judge O’Donnell ordered that they add another €1,000 to the money already handed in to court.
He said the attack was a “cowardly and vicious assault where the victim had no chance to defend himself. It was nothing more than bully-boy tactics.
“I want to send out a strong message against violent acts and gratuitous assaults like this. This is unacceptable conduct”, Judge O’Donnell said.
“However, given that the accused have no previous convictions and other mitigating factors, I will impose a three-year sentence on each of them for the assault, but suspend it for a period of three years”.
He ordered that the €9,000 compensation be paid over to Mr O’Donnell immediately.