No jail time for stamping on man’s head in Limerick hotel

Judge Tom O'Donnell

A MAN who repeatedly stamped on another man’s head during an unprovoked attack at a Limerick hotel has walked free from court after receiving a fully suspended sentence.

Lee O’Brien, (25), with an address at Cratloe Woods Student Village, Co Clare, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Danny Sutton, Kilmacthomas, Waterford, at the South Court Hotel, Raheen on  September 9, 2018.

Following his arrest, O’Brien, who did not know the victim, told Gardai he was disgusted by his actions.

The unprovoked attack occurred in the early hours of the morning near the hotel’s residents bar, and after the accused had consumed alcohol, which he had an addiction to.

It’s understood Mr Sutton, who had been staying at the hotel after attending an event at an exhibition centre in Limerick, attempted to intervene in an argument involving O’Brien and members of his family, however O’Brien lashed out, punching Mr Sutton and knocking him to the ground.

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O’Brien continued attacking Mr Sutton as he lay on the ground, and after having walked away, he returned and stamped on Mr Sutton’s head at least three times.

Judge Tom O’Donnell described Mr O’Brien’s actions as an unprovoked and very violent attack.

“He clearly targeted the victim’s head with several stamps. He took a deliberate position and delivered a number of stamps to the victim’s head.”

Judge O’Donnell said it was fortunate Mr Sutton’s injuries were not as serious as they could have been.

Mr Sutton suffered cuts, lacerations, and bruising to an eye and to his head, but he did not sustain “long lasting injuries and he made a full recovery”, the judge said.

The assault was captured on closed circuit television cameras at the hotel and the footage “clearly showed Mr O’Brien as the aggressor and stamping on Mr Sutton a number of times”.

After his arrest O’Brien made full admissions, telling Gardai, “drink doesn’t agree with me” and he admitted the attack was disgusting.

When he was charged with assault causing harm, O’Brien replied: “I’m very sorry.”

The judge said it appeared an argument had broken out between members of O’Brien’s party “and Mr Sutton may have gone to calm it down and the accused lost his temper and kicked and punched and stamped on him”.

The court heard O’Brien had 16 previous convictions, including for assault and burglary, and theft.

O’Brien’s barrister said his client was a loving father with a long term partner, and was “absolutely appalled at his own behaviour”.

“He had quite a tough upbringing, lost his father when he was ten and he fell in with the wrong crowd,” he added.

The court heard O’Brien had since mended his ways and was exceptionally apologetic. He had found full-time employment, was attending Alcoholics Anonymous, and had engaged in residential treatment for his addiction.

He had also offered €500 compensation to the victim.

Judge O’Donnell said the fact the attack was completely unprovoked was concerning and that O’Brien, from his previous convictions, had shown a “propensity for violence, which is magnified by alcohol”.

In light of his early guilty plea, and his efforts to rehabilitate himself, the judge imposed a suspended two-year jail sentence and ordered he pay Mr Sutton €500 compensation.

He added that he would activate the suspended sentence if O’Brien got into trouble within the next two years.