25 Jun 2022

Man suffered life changing injuries after being head-butted outside Offaly takeaway

Man suffered life changing injuries after being head-butted outside Offaly takeaway

Man sentenced at Tullamore Circuit Court

A MAN has paid €16,000 in compensation and been jailed for 18 months for an assault which resulted in the victim suffering life changing injuries.

Tullamore Circuit Court was told that Noel Dunne, Arden Vale, Tullamore, head-butted Martin Grech at William Street, Birr on December 15, 2019, the night of Mr Dunne's 28th birthday.

He subsequently pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm to Mr Grech. He also admitted assaulting another man, Aaron Condron, on the same occasion.

In a sentencing judgment, Judge Keenan Johnson said that Mr Dunne was celebrating his engagement and his birthday on the night and it appeared he was “highly intoxicated” after being drinking for a considerable period.

Martin Grech and Aaron Condron had come out of a takeaway. “It appears that the accused started to abuse the victims and accuse them of staring at his girlfriend,” said Judge Johnson.

Mr Grech then told Mr Dunne he should go home and the accused head-butted him, causing him to fall to the ground.

Judge Johnson said different witnesses had different recollections of what exactly happened but Mr Grech recalled getting a bang to the back of the head and then being kicked to the head while he was on the ground.

Mr Condron recalled Mr Grech stumbling backwards and then getting into a fight with Mr Dunne.

Another witness, named as Jamie Dunne, corroborated the evidence that there was a head-butt and another man, Cian McCann, said he saw Mr Grech being hit straight to the temple and dropping right on his back.

A taxi driver, Sean Redmond, said he initially saw five or six people fighting and as he got closer he observed a man fitting Mr Dunne's description punching a man and knocking him to the ground.

“He states that the noise of the victim hitting the road was frightening,” said Judge Johnson.

Mr Grech lost consciousness and had to be taken by ambulance to Tullamore Hospital.

“His injuries are ongoing and life changing. Mr Condron also suffered minor injuries but thankfully has made a full recovery.”

The court heard the accused co-operated with gardai, could not remember the incident but did not deny any allegations put to him. He also identified himself on CCTV footage.

A medical report for Mr Grech revealed he had suffered a bleed on the brain along with severe post concussion syndrome with headaches, irritability, loss of motivation and a feeling of anger.

In his victim impact report, Mr Grech said he had spent over three weeks in and out of hospital and lost time with his family, especially his young daughter, over the Christmas period in 2019.

“Since the assault he has been deemed unfit to return to his pre-accident employment as a welder. This is a job that he loved and which he can no longer do,” said Judge Johnson.

He is now acquiring a truck driver's licence but his health is still affected. He is back on blood pressure medication, suffers from loss of concentration and social anxiety.

The judge said: “He states that the emotional and physical scars that he carries are a constant reminder of what happened to him but that he is not going to let them define him or his futured. He hopes that one day his mental and physical health will improve and that he will be able to obtain his full truck driver's licence and re-enter the workforce and find a new role that he can enjoy.”

The judge said €6,000 had already been offered by the accused in compensation along with another €10,000 through a credit union loan.

“It is regrettable that even though compensation is being offered by the accused to the victim, such compensation will not, due to the limited circumstances of the accused, be sufficient to properly compensate Mr Grech for his injuries.”

Judge Keenan criticised the “wholly inadequate criminal compensation system” which does not allow victims like Mr Grech to be compensated.

“I note that the Law Reform Commission is reviewing this aspect of our criminal justice system and it is to be hoped that the imbalance that currently exists whereby victims are not adequately compensated will be redressed following this review.”

The judge described the attack on Mr Grech as “unprovoked and vicious” and noted that since the offence Mr Dunne had been convicted for the sale and supply of cannabis, for which he received a 10-month suspended sentence.

A probation report assessed him at moderate risk of reoffending. Currently employed as a chef, he had stopped taking drugs and drinking and seemed to be law-abiding when not intoxicated.

A letter from an employee of Carroll Cuisine indicated he was a good worker.

Judge Johnson said while the maximum sentence is life, the offending was in the mid-range and would attract a sentence of seven years.

With mitigation, he reduced that to seven years and suspended the final three-and-a-half years on condition Mr Dunne enter a €500 peace bond, stay under the supervision of the probation service for a year after his release, refrain from alcohol and drugs for the remainder of the suspended sentence, provide urine for analysis when requested and pay €16,000 in compensation.

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