10 Aug 2022

Workplace assault over loud radio as man put colleague in headlock

32-year-old Portlaoise man told to pay €10,000 compensation after punching man a number of times

Workplace assault over loud radio as man put colleague in headlock

An argument over a radio playing too loud in a workplace resulted in a Portlaoise man putting his colleague in a headlock and punching him several times, Portlaoise Circuit Court heard.

John O’Brien (32), Portlaoise, was convicted in the district court in February this year of section 3 assault where he received an eight-month sentence. He appealed this sentence before the recent sitting of the circuit court.

At the appeal, Garda Aoife Bannon told the court that on July 3, 2017, the appellant struck another man at his place of work. He struck the man a couple of times to the face, causing injuries including a laceration to his lip and an injury to the bridge of his nose.

Garda Bannon said that the appellant had the injured party in a headlock and punched him a number of time to the face. The injured party needed four stitches.

The garda told the court that the cause of the altercation was the radio playing too loud. The appellant cut the wires of the radio, so the injured party retaliated by cutting the wires of O’Brien’s radio.

In interview, the appellant said he acted in self defence.

The appellant had seven previous convictions, including assaults.

The injured party made a victim impact statement in which he said the assault has left him with depression and bad psoriasis due to stress and he has not gone back to work since.

He has lost his confidence and sold his car as he was afraid the accused would recognise him. He used to live alone but is now back living with his father and is constantly looking over his shoulder.

“It has ruined my life,” he said.

Defence, Mr Rory Hanniffy said the incident started out as a bit of play-acting, but following the snipping of the cords there were comments between the two men.

Mr Hanniffy said that the injured party made a remark to the appellant to “go away and have a cry to himself” and the appellant took this as a reference to an attempt the appellant had made to take his own life.

Mr Hanniffy also said the appellant suffered injuries in the incident, but Garda Bannon replied that the injured party had said the appellant already had a black eye before the incident.

The appellant took the witness box to say that things escalated after the radio wire was snipped.

He said he overreacted after the injured party made the remark about the appellant going away to cry, and his actions were completely over the top.

“I took it completely out of context,” he said, going on to apologise.

He said he was suspended from work after this incident, but has since returned to work. His employer was present in court with him.

In ruling, Judge Keenan Johnson described it as a significant and severe assault, with the injured party still off work a year later.

The matter was adjourned to December 5 for a probation report on the appellant, with Judge Johnson telling him to pay €10,000 compensation over the next three years and to have the first €2,000 in court in December.

If the probation report is positive, the judge said he would consider suspending the sentence for seven years. The appellant must also continue with anger management.

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