A Laois man has been jailed for a savage and unprovoked attack on a man with cerebral palsy, which occurred when the injured party was waiting for a bus in Portlaoise.
At the recent Portlaoise Circuit Court, William Mulrooney (31), was charged with assault causing harm, at James Fintan Lalor Avenue, Portlaoise, on May 23, 2017.
Garda Daniel Ward gave evidence, along with State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly, that two men with cerebral palsy were waiting for a bus when they were approached by the accused. The accused demanded money and they refused, so Mulrooney struck one of the men in the face, arm and stomach and headbutted him.
The injured party, who had a weakness along one side of his body, was unable to defend himself and suffered injuries including profuse bleeding from his nose, a headache and pain to his arm.
Garda Ward said the injured party’s clothes were covered in blood. When the gardaí located and spoke to Mulrooney he told them he hadn’t done anything, but Garda Ward said the accused was very agitated looking with red marks and blood on his fists.
He was arrested and interviewed, admitting that he had hit the injured party a box to the face. He claimed that the injured party had said something offensive to him after he asked for money to pay for his bus trip.
Garda Ward said the accused showed no remorse for what he had done and was indifferent to the fact that he had assaulted someone with cerebral palsy.
Garda Ward described the accused as a known drug user in the area, who had 24 previous convictions.
The accused was in custody since May 24 last, the day after the assault.
The injured party attended court with his parents and provided a victim impact statement.
He said his life had changed since the incident, he did not want to go back to college and he did not want to go back into Portlaoise.
He said the pains would come and go for a week and a half after the attack, and when he took the bus again after three weeks he felt paranoid as his confidence was knocked.
“If not for the support of my friends and family I could not have rebuilt my confidence,” he said.
Defence for the accused said that Mulrooney wished to apologise for his behaviour.
On the day, he thought he knew the companion of the injured party and looked for money. He thought the injured party said something about his mother, but there was no corroboration to this claim, said defence.
The accused had no funds to offer as compensation.
In sentencing, Judge Keenan Johnson described the offence as “a totally unprovoked, savage and vicious assault”.
“He should hang his head in shame, I can’t think of a meaner type of offence,” said Judge Johnson.
The judge said that both the injured party and his family deserve great credit for how they had dealt with the incident.
Given the severity of the assault on a vulnerable individual, Judge Johnson imposed a three-year sentence, with the last nine months suspended for five years on condition the accused enter into a peace bond, he remain under probation supervision, and he remain drug and alcohol free.
Judge Johnson said he would have liked to put an element of compensation into the sentencing, but there was no point.
The sentence was backdated to May 24 last year.