Teenager who beat and kicked homeless man escapes jail with suspended sentence

Aaron Holland was given a fully suspended sentence for the unprovoked attack. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

A MAN who took part in a “savage” attack on a vulnerable man in Limerick City walked free from court after receiving a fully suspended two-year jail sentence.

The unprovoked attack by Aaron Holland (19), of Marian Road, Templemore, County Tipperary, and two other males, was “absolutely and utterly appalling, and outrageous” said sentencing judge Tom O’Donnell.

Judge O’Donnell said he was not imposing an immediate custodial sentence on Mr Holland, because Mr Holland had pleaded guilty early in the case, he had no previous convictions, and he was one of the youngest of the attackers.

“This was a savage and cowardly outing by the three people involved, it deserves a custodial sentence, but I take into account that the accused (Mr Holland) has no previous convictions, and he has come forward on a signed guilty plea,” said Judge O’Donnell.

The judge said Mr Holland was part of a “feral” group of males that were “roaming the streets” of Limerick City at around 5am on the morning of the attack.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

The gang had “set upon” Declan Quinlivan, a 39-year-old homeless man, who had been “minding his own business”.

Mr Holland and the two other men kicked and punched Mr Quinlivan over 100 times and robbed him of cash and a mobile phone, Limerick Circuit Criminal Court heard.

Mr Quinlivan could be heard on CCTV footage that captured the attack begging the men: “Stop, please, please I beg ye, please stop.”

The gang continued kicking and punching Mr Quinlivan while he lay on the ground, pleading with them to stop.

The attack happened at the junction of Wickham Street/Thomas Street in Limerick City on May 8, 2022. The State accepted a guilty plea from Mr Holland to one count of engaging in violent disorder.

At the time, Mr Holland was 17, another of the group was 15, and the third male was 20 years old.

They chased Mr Quinlivan before kicking and punching him 109 times as he lay on the ground.

John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting counsel, said the Director of Public Prosecutions had directed that the three accused be prosecuted on a charge of violent disorder as Mr Quinlivan had not made a formal statement to Gardaí about the assault and robbery which the court previously heard was captured on CCTV.

At a previous court sitting, Garda Jason Walmsley, Roxboro Road Garda Station, Limerick, agreed with prosecuting counsel that Holland and the two other males were at the time “feral youths” roaming the streets.

During the CCTV footage of the attack – which lasted five minutes – and which was previously played in court, Mr Quinlivan was heard telling his attackers: “Take what ye want lads, but please stop beating me.”

The CCTV footage shows the men pausing briefly as a taxi passes the scene, and they immediately resume attacking Mr Quinlivan as soon as the taxi passes by.

Although Mr Quinlivan was taken to University Hospital Limerick, no evidence of his injuries were disclosed in court, and he did not make a victim impact statement.

Gardaí had responded to the scene after they received an anonymous tip off from a witness, and when they arrived on the scene they observed Mr Quinlivan with blood pouring out of his forehead, and three males gesturing towards the victim and making threats to him.

Gardaí pursed the three males and arrested the 15 year old and 20 year old, however Mr Holland managed to initially escape on foot.

Gardaí eventually caught up with Mr Holland in October 2022 after he was identified on the CCTV footage.

After his arrest, Mr Holland admitted everything to Gardaí, he identified himself on the CCTV footage, and he acknowledged Mr Quinlivan had been terrified during the attack.

Mr Holland was heard on the CCTV footage threatening Mr Quinlivan, telling him he knew who he was and warning him not to make a complaint to Gardaí.

Imposing a two-year suspended sentence on Mr Holland, Judge O’Donnell said: “This is a man who was roaming the streets at 5am and himself and his cohorts set upon an innocent victim and meted out an awful beating.”

A probation report stated Mr Holland was of a “moderate risk” of re-offending.

Pleading for leniency from the court, Mr Holland’s barrister Donal Cronin, BL, said his cilent had no previous conditions, he had consumed “alcohol and narcotics” at the time, he was “fully apologetic” for the attack, and he had “distanced himself” from the other two males.

Mr Cronin said Mr Holland had “turned his life around” having since gained full-time employment.

Mr Holland looked skywards and took a deep breath after the court imposed a fully suspended sentence.

Judge O’Donnell told Mr Holland he did not want to see him before the court again: “Your conduct was outrageous, completely out of order, and unacceptable, you were a hair’s breadth of going to jail today – consider yourself a very lucky man.”