10 Aug 2022

'One punch can kill' warns judge in Portlaoise assault case


'One punch can kill' warns judge in Portlaoise assault case

A Portlaoise man who punched another man in a queue of traffic at a fast food outlet has been given community service in lieu of prison.

William McInerney, 29, 13 Bruach na hBháinn, Portlaoise, was charged with assault. causing harm, at Supermacs, James Fintan Lalor Avenue, Portlaoise, on May 20, 2018.

When the case first came before the district court last November, Sgt Jason Hughes said that on May 20, the injured party, a Mr Nevin, was sitting in his car at Supermacs when verbals were exchanged between him and the accused.

The accused opened the door and struck the injured party, causing swelling, bruising and nose fractures.

The accused had 19 previous convictions, including road traffic offences.

At the November court, Judge Catherine Staines adjourned the matter for a restorative justice report and a victim impact statement. She also said the accused needs to address compensation.

At last week’s court, Judge Staines noted that the injured party did not want the matter dealt with under the restorative justice programme. The court also heard that the injured party did not want to make a victim impact statement.

Defence, Mr Philip Meagher said his client had proffered a letter of apology and had €500 compensation in court.

Defence said this was “a one-punch incident”, but Judge Staines remarked that one punch can kill someone.

Mr Meagher responded that at least the accused had not followed through with further blows.

He said that the accused was collecting food for his family when he received a call from his wife that one of the children was agitated and the accused was anxious to get home. He was unable to get out of the space in the queue so he beeped his horn, hoping that the other car would move, but it didn’t.

Mr Meagher said the accused was not a man of means and saving the €500 compensation had been significant.

In ruling, Judge Staines noted the accused had no previous convictions for assault. She said the offence merited a custodial sentence, however she would give the accused the opportunity to pay further compensation and do community service.

The matter was put back to June 6, for the accused to pay a further €500 and for a community service report, with Judge Staines recommending 200 hours’ community service in lieu of ten months in jail.

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