26 Sept 2022

Homeless man jailed for 'random' glass attack on stranger

Homeless man jailed for 'random' glass attack on stranger

A homeless man who used his watch and a glass to seriously injure a stranger during a “random” early morning attack in Dublin city centre has been jailed for six years.

Dylan O'Neill, now aged 20, and the man exchanged words outside McDonalds on O'Connell Street prior to the assault which left the victim scarred and suffering paralysis on one side of his face.

O'Neill, then 19 years old and homeless, first punched the man, before hitting him again into the face with his watch and then throwing a glass which hit him on the face.

O'Neill of Carman's Hall, Dublin 8 pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to causing serious harm to the man at O'Connell Street on December 8, 2019. He has 34 previous conviction, including one for assault causing harm.

Judge Martin Nolan set a starting point of 12 years and took into account O'Neill's guilty plea, his remorse and that he was a young man capable of reform. He said he accepted O'Neill was homeless and taking drugs. He noted he had a tough life with a lot of difficulties.

He accepted O'Neill did not go out with the intention to assault anyone but said it was aggravating that it was a persistent attack consisting of a punch, the attack with the watch and throwing a glass.

Judge Nolan said if you attack someone and throw a glass it was foreseeable that injuries  would occur and it was not accidental. He imposed a sentence of six years imprisonment

Detective Garda Emmet Brannigan told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that the victim was out socialising and had encountered O'Neill at the door of McDonalds. They exchanged words and O'Neill punched him. The victim grabbed him by the lapels to get him to stop punching.

The victim did not remember much more but felt a slash to the top of his face. Witnesses described O'Neill moving his watch from his wrist onto his hand before hitting the man into the face and then picking up two glasses and throwing them, one of which struck the victim.

The man sustained a 12cm long laceration to the left side of his face running from his forehead to the corner of his mouth, as well as smaller cuts. He was taken to hospital, his wounds cleaned and he underwent surgery to close the wound.

Ms McGowan said the Director of Public Prosecutions view was that this case lay in the upper range of offending.

The garda agreed with Dominic McGinn SC, defending, it was not clear what had caused the altercation, with a verbal exchange between people escalating. He agreed it was “totally random” with the men never having met before.

Mr McGinn said O'Neill had a stable upbringing, doing well at school and excelling at sports, until the age of 15 when his father left the home. He said this had a big impact on his client and he went on a downward spiral ending in drug use, addiction and living in hostels.

He said O'Neill had been subject to an attack himself in August 2019 and submitted his problems were not simply the abuse of drugs and were more deep-rooted.

Mr McGinn said the attack had not been premeditated and it was apparent his client had been highly intoxicated.

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