A RATHDOWNEY man who punched his girlfriend’s sister to the ground leaving her badly injured was given a suspended sentence at the recent Circuit Court, with Judge Tony Hunt describing his actions as reprehensible and warning the man to watch his step in future.
Brendan Carroll, 7 Knockiel Drive, committed the assault in Rathdowney on July 25, 2010. Counsel for the State Mr Will Fennelly gave evidence that the injured party was Carroll’s girlfriend’s sister, who was 17 at the time.
The court heard that Carroll and his girlfriend had a disagreement after a local festival and Carroll refused to let her into his flat. The injured party arrived at the flat to find her sister outside in a distressed state and so she knocked on Carroll’s door. Carroll, who had consumed a lot of alcohol, opened the door and punched her in the face, causing her to fall.
“It was a pretty severe punch to the face,” Mr Fennelly said. Mr Fennelly told the court that the injured party suffered a nasal bone fracture, her vision was blurred and she had headaches.
A victim impact statement was read out by Sgt James Phelan. Sgt Phelan said the woman had spent three days in hospital and since the attack she has been left with a permanent black spot in her vision. The woman is experiencing IBS and kidney problems and has ongoing chest and back pains. Sgt Phelan said that the woman had been studying for her leaving cert and had missed a lot of school time and she was afraid to go out since the attack.
“I do not feel safe in my own home,” the statement said.
Sgt Phelan said that when interviewed, Carroll had said he had consumed 10 Smithwicks and two or three shorts on the day. Carroll said that after the argument with his girlfriend he went to bed and was later woken up by banging at the front door. Carroll told the gardaí that he opened the door and just swung a punch.
The court heard that Carroll has a number of previous convictions going back to 2006, mostly for road traffic offences.
Defence, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick said her client was handing in a letter of apology and €5,000 compensation to the injured party.
“She deserves it, this was an extremely humiliating episode,” declared Judge Hunt, adding that he could see from the injured party’s distraught state in court the ongoing effect the attack had on her. He also said she was free to read the letter of apology, or tear it up and put it in the bin.
“I’d understand if she chose to do that,” he said. Judge Hunt said he wanted to make the injured party’s position as secure as possible and he said he hoped Carroll was thoroughly ashamed of himself.
“This was reprehensible,” the judge said. “What happened was disgraceful. He deserves custody, but that would not be in everybody’s interest. I think it would be better for him to stay in the community and pay more compensation.”
Judge Hunt sentenced Carroll to two and a half years, suspended for three years on condition he keep the peace and have no contact with the injured party. Carroll was ordered to hand over the €5,000 compensation, with a further €3,000 to be paid within 12 months.
“The next step is prison. You won’t be getting any more leniency from me - you watch your step,” warned the judge.