A 40-YEAR-old Kilkenny man was viciously assaulted in an unprovoked attack last March. Last month his attacker was sentenced to five months behind bars. He spoke to Mary Cody about how the ordeal has affected his life and how he hopes he can finally put it behind him.
NOBODY expects to be set upon and brutally beaten for no reason. People are aware that unprovoked assaults happen but very few are unfortunate to experience it at first-hand. The consequences are devastating and for most people long after the physical injuries have healed the mental wounds remain.
One Kilkenny man, who does not wish to be named, is sharing his story primarily to thank the two men who came to his assistance and also to highlight how one cannot be careful enough when it comes to personal safety.
“I was walking home on the Hebron Road close to the entrance to Lakeside. I was on my way home after meeting a few people and was minding my own business when a man came out of an estate and asked me for a cigarette. I gave him one and he asked me for directions. He was in Lithuanian on the phone and in English to me. He asked me if I was Irish or Polish and I said I was Irish. He swung a kick into my face and I fell to the ground. He took my mobile phone from my pocket on the ground and continued to kick me when I was on the ground. He kicked me a few times in the head. I was in total shock.
“I was very lucky. There was someone leaving in a taxi who came to my assistance. Only for that it could have been much worse. I was very lucky not to be left with permanent injuries,” he said.
The man sustained horrific facial injuries, including bruising and lacerations to his lips and around his eye which required stitches. He also almost lost an eye in the attack and his leg was also damaged and he had to undergo physiotherapy for a number of months. “My leg still gives me trouble from time to time and I find sunlight hard on my eyes,” he said.
However, the psychological scars are slower to heal and the victim of this crime has not walked under darkness since his attack. “I lived and worked in Dublin for eight years and I never thought that this could happen to me on my own doorstep. I have travelled all over Europe and spent time in New York and never witnessed anything like time. When I think back I realise that I was very lucky that someone came along or I could have been left with only one eye. The person who got out of the taxi shielded me while I tried to get to my feet and the taxi driver rang the emergency services. Thankfully the gardaí were only on John Street so they were there within a few minutes and an ambulance arrived soon after.”
The injured party was brought to St Luke’s Hospital and stayed there for two nights. He also attended Waterford Regional Hospital on four occasions for treatment for his eye injuries. “I am a lot more nervous now. It has a huge impact on my life. I felt on the day of the court that my attacker didn’t show any remorse or regret for what he had done. The whole ordeal has also had a huge impact on family members. The physical thing is one thing but it is very difficult to take in the unprovoked nature of the attack. It is hard to understand. I have never been in trouble in my life.
“I want to thank the taxi driver – on the night I didn’t get his name or the number plate – and the passenger who also came to my assistance. They were complete strangers. There is an irony that it was one stranger who did this to me and two strangers that came to my aid. I really hope to put this behind me but the mental consequences are much more difficult. I have never been in court and I thought the sentence was lenient. Saying that, I am relieved that the gardaí caught him and that he didn’t get away with it. The quick responses of the emergency services made a big difference. I just want to let people know my story so that they will be careful if they are walking at night and will think twice before walking home alone. Since then I have heard of another unprovoked assault in town. We all think it will never happen to you but it does and you can’t be too careful. On our doorsteps and outside our homes can be dangerous places. If that taxi driver hadn’t come within a minute or two, it could have been a very different scenario.”
The man responsible for the attack was convicted of assault and sentenced to five months in prison at Kilkenny Court.