Longford District Court: Judge calls man a 'latchico' after assault

Five month sentence for knocking man unconscious during row

Longford District Court: Judge calls man a 'latchico' after assault

A man who knocked another man unconscious by breaking his jaw during a fight in a Longford town pub was last week sentenced to five months in prison.

Martin Grundza, 47 Lana Aoibhinn, Longford was handed down the sentence following an incident at The Anvil Bar, Centenary Square, Longford on June 6 2015.

The court was told gardai were called to the scene in response to a report that an altercation had broken out during a game of pool.

Inspector Padraig Jones said the incident had been sparked by Mr Grunza allegedly interrupting a game that had been going on at the time.

He said it resulted in a “verbal altercation” between Mr Grundza and the victim, Stephen Farrell.

He added such was the speed and force of violence used in the incident, Mr Farrelly was unable to defend himself.

“The injured party was unconscious before he hit the ground,” said the Inspector.

He said CCTV footage and a number of statements from witness were also used before Mr Grunza was eventually charged under Section 3 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1977.

The court was also told Mr Grundza had been convicted of a Section 6 Public Order charge the previous November but failed to comply with the terms of a community service order.

Asked by Judge Hughes why he didn’t meet those conditions, Mr Grundza said he never received a letter about it.

A representative from the Probation Services said a letter was sent to Mr Grundza’s home address on February 4, informing him of the 150 hours community service order in lieu of one month in prison.

The representative added his mother replied on February 10, informing service officials that Mr Grundza had a medical appointment.

A second letter was subsequently sent out on March 2 with a view to rearranging the court order, but Mr Grundza failed to attend, said the representative.

Defence solicitor, Fiona Baxter said Mr Grundza had in fact been staying at his sister’s address at the time and was unaware of the letters being sent out.

She added her client was extremely remorseful over what had occurred.

However, she said the incident was provoked by a number of racial insults that had been directed towards her client just moments beforehand.

“He (Mr Grundza) deeply regrets his actions,” she said.

“I believe the pushing and shoving is shown on CCTV but I believe what actually escalated the matter was racial abuse.

She added her claim had been backed up by an independent witness at the time.

But Inspector Jones said after reviewing around half a dozen witness statements that were taken as part of the investigation, he could find no references which appeared to support those claims.

The court also heard from the victim, Stephen Farrell who told Judge Hughes he remembers little of the incident.

He said earlier that evening he had been playing a session on his guitar and decided to stay on and play pool.

“He (Mr Grundza) was getting in the way of the pool table, saying what shots to play and the name calling started then,” said Mr Farrell.

“I just remember waking up after that.”

“I was knocked out. I don’t remember him hitting me. I just seen the (CCTV) footage.”

In her mitigation, Ms Baxter said her client was very much holding his hands up over what had occurred.

“He is 19 years old,” she said, adding that his mother was anxious to keep her son on a “tight rein”.

Judge Hughes responded by calling into question Mr Grundza’s sincerity over his actions.

“If my jaw was broke, an apology wouldn’t give me much satisfaction,” he said while asking why Mr Grundza had failed to come to court with any compensation.

“How much has he saved? Judge Hughes asked.

“He knew he broke a man’s jaw within a week.”

He said Mr Grundza’s failure to offer up any form of monetary redress allied to his previous failure to abide by a court ruling meant he was staring at a custodial sentence.

“He (Mr Grundza) has particularly aggravated the court by not turning up for his community service.

“If you had done that (offered compensation money) you would have saved yourself from prison.”

In describing Mr Grundza as a “latchico” Judge Hughes alluded to the increasing number of drink fuelled assaults that were coming before him.

He also said that had the assault taken place on a street footpath, Mr Grundza could have been facing a much more serious charge.

“From the court’s point of view, there is far too many incidents of a one punch blow to the face,” he said.

“If people think they can throw a punch under the cover of darkness with drink consumed they are wrong.”

Turning his attention to Mr Grundza once more, Judge Hughes said: “I give you some credit for the plea of guilty but this carries 12 months in prison.”

He also rejected Mr Grundza’s defence that racial remarks had been directed against him as he sentenced him to five months in prison.