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27/07/2021

GAA player who broke another player's jaw during a match avoids a jail term

GAA player who broke another player's jaw during a match avoids a jail term

A GAA player who broke another player's jaw during a football match has received a fully suspended sentence.

Richard Walker (33) fractured the opposition player's jaw in two places after punching him once during a match in which his team were losing by a high score.

Judge Martin Nolan commented that the “law of the land runs on a sporting pitch”, adding that “sometimes” some players act as if it does not.

Walker of Ferrycarraig Road, Priorswood, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at St Mary's GAA Club, Saggart, on July 15, 2018. He has no previous convictions.

Garda Sarah Flood told Siobháin Ní Chúlacháin BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, O'Toole's GAA were playing a match against St Mary's and with ten minutes to go St Mary's were winning by approximately 16 points.

Gda Flood said that while a St Mary's player was watching the ball, Walker punched him once in the face. The accused was the only player near him when this happened and he pushed the victim once or twice after the assault.

After the assault, the victim removed his mouth guard which caused blood to start pouring out of his mouth and he was told he had to leave the pitch by the referee. Walker was later sent off after receiving a black card for a technical foul.

The victim jaw was broken in two places and he also sustained nerve damage. He underwent surgery during which three plates were put into his jaw and the total cost of all his medical treatment was €4,400.

Gda Flood agreed with Keith Spencer BL, defending, that one witness to the punch said the assault was preceded by pushing and shoving between the two players. She agreed that Walker was banned from playing for eight weeks by the GAA following the incident.

The garda agreed with counsel that his client had come to court with a sum of €3,000 which the victim was willing to accept. She agreed Walker was willing to pay for the rest of the victim's medical expenses.

Mr Spencer said his client has no addictions issues, no alcohol issues and no anger issues. He described the offence as “a once off” and a “complete aberration”.

Counsel said his client had instructed him to apologise to the victim and said he was “extremely regretful” that the match ended the way it did. He submitted that nothing like this will ever happen again in his client's life.

He said his client was a plumber who has been working as such for 10 years. He said he was a “very family orientated man” who had two children.

Judge Nolan said it “seems unlikely” that Walker will be before the court again for anything as serious as this offence. He said it would be unjust to imprison him at this time.

He sentenced Walker to two years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on strict conditions.

Judge Nolan ordered that Walker hand over the €3,000 to the prosecuting garda and that he raise a further sum of €5,000 within one year.

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