A PRISONER in the Midlands Prison who assaulted another prisoner by punching him repeatedly in the face has been given a three-year sentence, with Judge Tony Hunt ruling he may suspend the sentence if the man receives a positive probation report.
Thomas Brennan (24) committed the assault on March 30, 2011. Sgt Justine Reilly gave evidence that the injured party, Mr John Paul McDonagh was invited into Brennan’s cell and punched repeatedly. Brennan was assisted in the assault by a co-accused, who was not before the recent circuit court.
Mr McDonagh suffered bruising to his face and a fracture to two bones in his cheek. Sgt Reilly said that Mr McDonagh had declined to have surgery, as he was warned of a risk of blindness.
Mr McDonagh, who was present in court, provided a victim impact statement, which was read into the record by Sgt Reilly. He said he feared that Brennan and the other man were going to kill him and he was struck several times in the face.
Mr McDonagh said he had been explained the risk of losing the vision in his eye and as a family member of his had lost his sight following surgery, he had declined surgery for his injury.
Mr McDonagh said he still experiences problems and has difficulty sleeping. He also said he was concerned for his safety, as he had co-operated with the gardaí. He said that his wife, who had been pregnant at the time, had been very upset by the incident and had to be hospitalised due to stress, but she had since gone on to give birth to a healthy baby boy.
Brennan has 70 previous convictions, including four assaults.
Defence, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick said there had been craic and banter between Brennan and Mr McDonagh at first, then they moved into the cell. She said that Brennan had lost three brothers in his life, one of whom was at his own hand, and the assault had occurred at a time when his life “was all over the place”.
Defence also handed in a number of character references to the court, including one from Brennan’s employer.
Judge Tony Hunt said that Mr McDonagh had been treated very badly. He said that society expects that if people can’t behave themselves outside prison, they can at least behave themselves inside.
Declaring that Brennan has “a rotten record”, Judge Hunt said he would not order a community service report and he sentenced Brennan to three years. However, the judge adjourned the matter to October 15 and said that if Brennan receives a favourable probation report he will suspend the sentence.
The judge also ordered that €500 which Brennan had in court be given to Mr McDonagh, to go toward his expenses to date.