A ONE-YEAR suspended sentence was handed down to a defendant who admitted assaulting a man leaving him with severe injuries in an unprovoked attack.
Paul Houlihan, 44 Cypress Grove, Loughboy admitted the offence on Robin Splini at John Street on October 10, 2011. Garda Amy Ryan told the court that she had attended John Street on the date in question after reports of an assault.
“I observed a male lying on his back with obvious facial and head injuries. I was informed by witnesses that James Houlihan had randomly attacked Robin Splini. An ambulance was called and he was brought to St Lukes and then he was transferred to St James Hospital in Dublin.”
On November 17 the defendant was arrested and detained and identified himself to gardai from CCTV footage. However he told gardai that he did not recall assaulting Robin Splini and also informed them that he consumed alcohol on the night.
“He did not deny it but he could not recall the nature of the assault which was a punch. He approached the injured party from behind and punched him in the back of the head and Robin Splini fell to the ground,” said the garda.
Prosecuting barrister Brian O’Shea told the court that a witness had seen the injured party getting sick on the ground and thick blood coming from his mouth and nose. A medical report which was handed into the court showed that there was significant swelling to his face and the injured party sustained a fracture and had to undergo surgery. The court also heard that the defendant had a metal plate inserted into his head following the incident. The injured party, who was present in court still has visible signs of the injuries on his face which he showed to the judge.
Victim Impact Statement
A victim impact statement read to the court said that the injured party was still receiving medical treatment and still has pain on a daily basis and that had affected his college participation and results. He also suffers from chronic pain, headaches, worry, panic and has nightmares and has difficulty sleeping. The court heard that the injured party had also always wanted to join the army and was worried that he wouldn’t get in and that he misses on average two days a week from the course he is attending due to pain caused from the injuries he sustained.
The court heard that there was garda CCTV footage of the area and that the defendant has three previous convictions under the Road Traffic Act.
Garda Ryan said that Mr Splini had told her that he had seen the defendant earlier in the night club and that the defendant had been antagonising him, brushing off him and ‘giving him the eyes’. The defendant told gardai that he had consumed eight cans before he went out and had six pints in O’Faolains. The defendant suffers from anxiety and is on medication. The defendant was not known to gardai prior to the incident and has not come to adverse garda attention since.
A letter of apology was offered to the court and €1,000 in compensation. Counsel, Brian O’Shea indicated to the court that the injured party did not wish to accept any form of compensation.
The court also heard that the defendant, who is now 21 had being diagnosed with OCD since he was 16. A number of testimonial letters were also handed into the judge along with a medical report which described him as ‘a bright, intelligent young man’. The court also heard that the defendant had entered a plea at the earliest opportunity.
Judge Alice Doyle remarked that the offence was caused as a result of ‘gratuitous violence’. “The victim was walking home when he was attacked from behind. As a result of a cowardly box being given he suffered very severe injuries and to this day suffers as a result.
“This is a very sad case where a man has being left like this as a result of gratuitous violence by the accused who had too much to drink. This man’s life will never be the same. I also have to take into account that the accused left the scene,” she said.
“I think that three years is the appropriate sentence. When I take into account the mitigating factors that is reduced to one year. I am going to suspend that for three years on condition that the accused be of good behaviour, liaise with the probation services to include any treatment including counselling and to attend AA meetings on a regular basis and to refrain from all non prescribed drugs and alcohol.” She also ordered that the €1,000 be handed over to the St Vincent de Paul.