Knocked off feet by punch in Laois pub

'savage assault'

Knocked off feet by punch in Laois pub

An Athy man who punched another man in a Stradbally pub, knocking the injured party off his feet and sending him flying into a doorway where he fell to the ground unconscious, has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Before Portlaoise Circuit Court was Damien Whelan, 35, of Athy, Kildare, charged with assault causing harm.

Garda Wayne Farrell gave evidence, along with State barrister, Mr Will Fennelly, that on March 27, 2017, at Napper Tandy’s Pub on Main Street, Stradbally, there was an altercation between the accused and the injured party, a man aged 49, which resulted in the accused punching the other man in the face.

The injured party was knocked backwards off his feet into a doorway and knocked unconscious. The accused kicked him on the ground, went back to the bar and finished his drink, and then kicked the man while he was unconscious on the ground.

The injured party was taken to hospital and treated for a broken nose.

When arrested, the accused exercised his right to silence and remained silent throughout the garda interview.

Garda Farrell said the injured party, who was present in court, had declined to give a victim impact statement. He said the injured party’s nose was still slightly twisted and had not been corrected.

The accused had 41 previous convictions, including assaults and public order matters.

Defence barrister, Mr Colm Hennessy said the offence was totally inexcusable. He said there was a brief exchange between the parties and the accused had considerable difficulties at the time, including depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Mr Hennessy referred to a psychological report on the accused that indicated an incident had happened to him some time ago in which he lost the sight in his left eye, which led to a deterioration in his behaviour.

Defence said the offence was an enormous over reaction. The offence was “a moment of madness”, said Mr Hennessy, adding that the accused had €10,000 compensation to offer the victim.

After viewing CCTV footage of the assault, Judge Keenan Johnson said: “It was a very savage assault, as bad as I’ve seen.”

The accused took the stand to say he would like to apologise to the injured party.

He said that at the time, a nine-year relationship had ended and he had also lost a friend through suicide, so he was in a dark place and turned to alcohol. The accused said he had not taken a drop of alcohol since.

He said he had been provoked on the day, after he and the injured party had been “at each other” for some time.

“We were getting into an argument and the two of us were drinking,” he said, adding he was sorry.

The injured party was present in court, but he declined the judge's invitation to say anything about the incident.

In sentencing, Judge Johnson said it was “a nasty, dirty attack” which had a huge negative effect on the injured party.

He described the accused as a Jekyll and Hyde character when he drinks.

“He’s a menace when he drinks,” said Judge Johnson.

The judge imposed a three-year sentence, suspended for ten years on condition the accused enter into a peace bond of €500; he remains under probation supervision for two years; he abstains from drink and drugs; and he pays a total of €40,000 compensation.