TWO men convicted of affray have been given community service in lieu of prison, for their part in an altercation in Camross which left a man with a piece of his ear bitten off.
Phelim Moore, Lacca, Mountrath, was given 240 hours’ community service in lieu of one year in prison at the recent Portlaoise Circuit Court; Aidan Carroll, Tinakill, Coolrain, was given the same sentence for affray, and a two-year sentence for assault causing harm, suspended for two years.
The offences occurred in Camross village on November 28, 2010, and the injured parties were two brothers from Errill, William and Gerard Danagher.
During the incident, Mr Gerard Danagher had a piece of his right ear bitten off. At a jury trial last October, all State witnesses testified that the injury was inflicted by Moore, who they said grabbed Mr Gerard Danagher in a bear-hug. However, Moore and Carroll both testified that it had been Carroll who bit the ear, claiming it was in self-defence.
Both men pleaded not guilty to all charges. The jury found Moore guilty of affray, and Carroll guilty of affray and one count of assault causing harm. The jury were unable to reach a verdict on a further charge against each man of assault causing harm.
Sentencing was adjourned to April, at which time Judge Tony Hunt requested probation and community service reports.
When the men appeared back before the circuit court recently, Judge Hunt said he was in a bit of a dilemma, as Mr Gerard Danagher had sustained serious injuries but the jury verdict was “inconsistent” with the evidence given by the State.
“It may have had something to do with the burden of proof, I don’t know, but I’m bound by the verdict,” said Judge Hunt. “Gerard Danagher may think the outcome was not satisfactory… Mr Danagher said it was Moore who caused the injury, there was disagreement and the conclusion will never be reached.”
In relation to this aspect of the case, Judge Hunt went on to say: “We can’t lay Mr Danagher’s ear at the door of either man, but unless there was intervention from outer space one of them is responsible.”
Defence for Carroll, Mr Stephen Groarke said his client was remorseful and the incident was out of character for him. Defence for Moore, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick said her client had a good employment history and if he received a custodial sentence he would lose his job.
“One of the unusual features of this case,” remarked Judge Hunt, “is how two people with no previous convictions and good jobs managed to get embroiled in something like this, especially as one of them didn’t have drink taken - or at least I hope he didn’t,” added the judge, referring to the fact that Moore was driving on the night.
Judge Hunt said he wanted to see the men’s “remorse made concrete” by way of a financial offering to the injured parties. Moore offered €2,000 to the court, and Carroll offered €3,000. The judge said that Moore was to provide another €1,000, with the money to be divided 80/20 between Gerard and William Danagher.
The judge sentenced as outlined.