14 Aug 2022

Man's jaw broken in two places in Offaly pub assault

Man's jaw broken in two places in Offaly pub assault

Man ordered to pay €21,200 to assault victim

A MAN'S jaw was broken in two places as a result of a two-punch assault in an Edenderry pub, Tullamore Circuit Court heard on Tuesday.

Luke McDonnell, a 29-year-old who formerly lived in Clonkeen, Carbury, Co Kildare was ordered by Judge Keenan Johnson to pay €20,000 to the victim, Ernie McNamee, in addition to €1,200 he brought to court.

In CCTV footage shown during a sentencing hearing, Mr McDonnell and Mr McNamee can be seen talking to each other in the smoking area of The Corner House, JKL Street, Edenderry on the evening of September 15, 2018.

Mr McDonnell was recorded striking Mr McNamee to the head twice with his right fist, causing the victim to fall to the floor.

The court heard the assault was not reported to gardai until a few weeks later after Mr McNamee had undergone surgery in St James' Hospital for the insertion of two plates in his jaw.

It was another year before Mr McDonnell, who had gone to live in Dublin and the UK, was arrested and interviewed by gardai.

He subsequently appeared before Tullamore District Court accused of assaulting Mr McNamee, causing him harm, and when jurisdiction was refused there, he entered a guilty plea in the Circuit Court on November 17 last.

Garda Leslie Coss told the sentencing hearing that Mr McNamee had gone to the Corner House pub between 6.30 and 7pm on the date of the assault to meet a friend.

The assault occurred at 9.29pm and though he was talking to the accused in the smoking area, he didn't really know him.

He could not recall the assault but remembered being cleaned up in the toilet and having blood on his face.

Garda Coss said the victim went home that night but the following Tuesday decided to go to accident and emergency in Tullamore Hospital where a report from Dr Sean O'Rourke detailed that an X-ray showed two fractures in his jaw.

He was then admitted to St James' Hospital and had an operation under general anaesthetic to insert the plates.

He was discharged after four days and still had mild discomfort and numbness.

Garda Coss, who said she had worked in Edenderry for 21 years, said she recognised Mr McDonnell in the CCTV footage from the public house.

Mr McNamee was not in court on Tuesday but a victim impact report indicated the assault had cost him €450 in medical expenses and €1,750 in lost wages.

He had also lost his confidence and suffered from anxiety and sleeplessness after the assault.

Cross-examined by Gerard Groarke, BL, defending, Garda Coss said she understood Mr McDonnell was now living in Dublin but when he was living in Carbury she knew him locally and would not have considered him a troublemaker.

In his own evidence, Mr McDonnell said after spending most of his childhood in Carbury he left after the incident in the pub and moved to Dublin and London.

He then got a job as a business development manager with the De Beers Group in Dubai but could not take it up because of his arrest.

Mr McDonnell said he was disgusted to see the video footage and the assault had occurred during a period in his life when he was out of control.

He had been suffering from anxiety and depression and began using drugs and alcohol.

He started addressing his addiction issues in February last year and got treatment in the Coolmine centre where he attended for a session each week.

A graduate of business and event management, he had recently set up his own marketing agency in IT and had grown it to the point where he was taking in €1,200 a month and would take in €500 more the following week.

He asked Judge Johnson to give him a chance and said he had brought €1,200 as compensation for the victim but would bring whatever additional money the court thought was fair.

A letter of apology to the victim was read in court, as was a letter to the judge.

Considering his sentence, Judge Johnson said the maximum sentence for a Section 3 assault is five years and the unprovoked two-punch assault on Mr McNamee was at the upper end of offending.

He said it could be argued that Mr McDonnell could have been charged with a Section 4 offence, assault causing serious harm, but in the circumstances the appropriate headline sentence was four-and-a-half years.

Judge Johnson said both men were intoxicated when they were in conversation in the smoking area but the assault was unprovoked and was a very serious offence on which the court must take a strong view.

Two blows had been struck and when the victim fell he was left there by the defendant and then did not own up to the offence.

With mitigation, taking into account the early plea of guilty once the matter came to court, and the fact that the accused suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome himself, he imposed a three-year sentence, suspended for 10 years.

The suspension was on condition Mr McDonnell enter a 10-year peace bond, remain under the supervision of the probation service for 18 months, abstain from drugs and alcohol and provide urine for analysis if required.

He also ordered the defendant to pay a total of €21,200 to Mr McNamee, including the €1,200 he paid that day.

Another €5,000 is to be paid in September and the remainder is to be paid in further instalments of €5,000 by March 1, 2023.

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