Four years in jail for Limerick woman who left man with brain injury

Courtney Murphy who was sentenced to five years in prison with the final year suspended.

A YOUNG Limerick woman has been jailed for four years for repeatedly banging a man’s skull on the edge of a footpath which left him with a brain injury and having to use a walking stick.

Courtney Murphy, who at the time had just turned 18 years of age, admitted jumping on Alan McCarthy, knocking him to the ground, and repeatedly punching and banging his head off the ground.

Ms Murphy, 20, from New Road, Thomondgate, Limerick, who pleaded guilty to assault causing harm at Limerick Circuit Court last Friday, told Gardai she “lost control” on the day.

Interviewed by Gardaí after her arrest, she claimed that Mr McCarthy had grabbed her by the throat during an earlier altercation.

However, the court heard that the attack on Mr McCarthy, which occurred at Westfield Wetlands, Condell Road on September 17, 2021 was a “one-sided” incident.

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“It was a one-sided attack against an intoxicated male who couldn’t defend himself,” John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, told the court.

A witness told Gardai they saw Ms Murphy  on top of Mr McCarthy, before she “grabbed his  hair and banged his head a couple of times off the ground and punched him”.

Another witness said they saw Ms Murphy on top of Alan McCarthy, punching him to his face.

A third witness said they saw Ms Murphy and Mr McCarthy arguing and Ms Murphy telling the victim she would “get her boyfriend”.

A witness claimed they saw Ms Murphy’s boyfriend, Darnell Price, punch Mr McCarthy in the face. However Mr Price, who pleaded guilty to a charge of engaging in violent disorder, denied striking the victim.

All parties had consumed a significant amount of alcohol on the day.

Forensic tests on Ms Murphy’s jeans tested positive for a match for Mr McCarthy’s blood.

Mr O’Sullivan said Ms Murphy admitted to assaulting Mr McCarthy: “In her own words, she ‘lost control’.”

Ms Murphy also admitted that Mr McCarthy “did not hit her” when she set upon him in the park.

Mr O’Sullivan said the persistence of Gardaí and paramedics, in assisting Mr McCarthy to hospital, probably saved his life.

He suffered a bleed on the left side of his brain and was transferred from University Hospital Limerick to Cork University Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

Doctors said Mr McCarthy suffered a sustained traumatic brain injury due to multiple impacts which left him with memory cognition issues and he continues to suffer significant weakness in his limbs and impaired psychological function.

The victim’s father, Patrick McCarthy, wrote in a victim impact statement that his son was left with life-changing injuries.

“He can’t play with his kids anymore due to this brutal attack by Courtney Murphy”.

Ciara McCarthy, the victim’s sister, said her brother “is no longer himself, we have to help him eat, pick things up, go upstairs”.

The court heard that one of Alan McCarthy’s children had cried themselves to sleep over their father’s injuries. They missed playing games with him, and they remain fearful he will fall and die because of his injuries.

Ms Murphy’s barrister said she had led a chaotic childhood after being orphaned at a young age. She had very little family support and “no previous convictions”.

Ms Murphy had consumed alcohol and cannabis which probably played a part in her behaviour.

“Gardaí accept she is genuinely remorseful, she was physically sick when she learnt of the extent of Mr McCarthy’s injuries,” the barrister said.

The court heard that Ms Murphy’s boyfriend, Darnell Price (23), of Kileely Road, Thomondgate, has 82 previous convictions for assault causing harm, possession of knives, criminal damage, burglary and theft.

The prosecution said it accepted that, similar to Ms Murphy, Mr Price also “didn’t get anything like a good start in childhood”.

At the time of the attack, Mr Price had just been released from prison and, according to Mr O’Sullivan, “has led a recidivist life with a propensity for violence.”

Judge Tom O’Donnell jailed Ms Murphy for five years backdated to February 2 when she voluntarily went into custody after revoking her bail.

The final 12 months of the sentence were suspended on condition she does not reoffend during the five years after her release date and that she adheres to a one-year post release supervision order.

Mr Price was remanded for sentencing at Limerick Circuit Court on July 18.

Alan McCarthy (right) with his father Patrick McCarthy and sister Ciara McCarthy leaving Limerick Circuit Court.