A father and son who appeared at Longford Circuit Court last week were handed down a two-year suspended sentence following an assault in Edgeworthstown in 2013.
Kevin Stokes Senior (43), Lisnanagh, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson on one charge of assault causing harm at Main Street, Edgeworthstown on February 17, 2013
His son, Kevin Stokes Junior (23), who resides at the same address, faced the same charge.
Taking to the stand, Garda Gary Beattie, Edgeworthstown confirmed to the counsel for prosecution, Mr Des Dockery, BL, that the charges arose from an incident on February 17, 2013 which involved Charlene and Justin Curran.
Garda Beattie said that it was alleged that Mr and Mrs Curran were approached at their car by Mr Stokes Junior who allegedly attempted to assault them with a hatchet.
The court then heard that a grey Ford Puma, being driven by Mr Stokes Senior, drove at the couple.
The court was told that Ms Curran put her hands on the bonnet and the car hit her knee.
It was also claimed that Mr Stokes Senior assaulted Mr Curran with the hatchet while Mr Stokes Junior attempted to assault Ms Curran with a wheel brace.
Garda Beattie explained that the initial assault happened at Main Street, Edgeworthstown but that Mr Curran ran to Kilbride Park, where he was found by Mr Stokes Junior and further assaulted.
Garda Beattie confirmed that when arrested two days later, both defendants denied involvement.
It was revealed that on the day of the attack, Ms Curran attended the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar and was treated for injuries to her left knee and the left hand side of her body but was not hospitalised.
However, she had to follow up with GP visits and physiotherapy. She was also prescribed with painkillers but had to cease taking them when she realised she was expecting a baby.
Mr Curran initially attended A&E with cuts to his head and face and injuries to his legs but after becoming unwell two days later was brought back to Mullingar and transferred to Tullamore with renal failure, where he spent more than a week in hospital. He was admitted to Intensive Care and underwent renal dialysis, which he has not required since.
Months after the incident, Mr Curran presented with headaches and a statement from his mother read to the court stated that “the life has gone out of him”.
The court also heard that he suffers from poor concentration, occasional depression and pain.
His self-confidence has suffered due to the three scars left on his face by the attack and he has had to stop playing football.
Garda Beattie explained that Mr Curran makes frequent visits to his GP and has been trying to make a follow up appointment with a Consultant Nephrologist.
The court then heard the nephrologist’s views that while there was significant soft tissue injury after the assault, it was not significant enough to cause any kind of renal impairment.
Counsel for Mr Stokes Junior, Mr Groarke, BL, then questioned Garda Beattie, who said it was his understanding that Mr Curran’s doctor’s report and nephrologist report conflicted on whether the kidney injury was caused by the assault but that Mr Curran maintained that it was. Mr Groarke then pointed out that as a kidney expert, Mr Bergin is likely to have a more weighty opinion.
When questioned, Garda Beattie confirmed that the incident seems to have arisen as part of an ongoing familial dispute, which Mr Groarke added has since “simmered down”.
He also revealed that the defendants had €2,000 compensation in court.
Representing Mr Stokes Senior, Mr Geraghty, BL, stated that his client is a father-of-thirteen and a carer for his mother, which he pointed out, was a positive aspect to his client’s personality. It was also revealed that Mr Stokes Snr suffers with mental health difficulties.
“As far as he’s concerned he wants to get on with his life,” Mr Geraghty added.
Victim impact reports from Mr and Mrs Curran revealed that there had been trouble between the two families before and outlined how the attack had changed their lives.
Ms Curran explained that the assault took place just three days after the couple’s wedding and that instead of enjoying a honeymoon, she was sitting by her husband’s bedside in ICU.
In his report, Mr Curran outlined his continuing health issues, before thanking those who have supported the couple.
The defendants were up for sentencing last Tuesday, May 10, when the Judge outlined the case and determined, for the purpose of sentencing, that Mr Curran’s kidney problems were unrelated to the assault.
Listing the level of violence used, the prior records of the defendants and the effect of the assault on the victim as aggravating factors in the case, Judge Johnson added; “The perpetration of this offence on the Main Street of Edgeworthstown during daylight hours was an affront to civilised society and to the citizens of Edgeworthstown and again this has to be taken as an aggravating factor.”
Among the mitigating factors, the Judge mentioned the defendants’ early plea of guilt, their co-operation in compiling the probation reports and the gathering of compensation.
“In determining sentence in this case the court has to balance the needs of society against the needs of the victim and the needs of each of the accused,” Judge Johnson continued. “Accordingly, the sentence imposed has to contain elements of punishment, deterrence, restitution and rehabilitation.
“I’m satisfied that each of the accused were equally culpable for the offending on the date in question.”
Adding that the maximum sentence for the offence is five years’ imprisonment, and taking the above factors into account, Judge Johnson then sentenced Mr Stokes Junior and Mr Stokes Senior to two years’ imprisonment, which he then suspended for five years under the following conditions: that each of the accused enter into a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for five years and that they submit themselves to supervision by the probation service for a period of two years.
He further directed that each of the accused pay €5,000 to Justin Curran within five years by annual payment of €1,000, starting immediately.
Finally, he ordered Mr Stokes Senior and Mr Stokes Junior to attend a probation service-approved anger management course, and successfully complete it within 12 months.
Adding that the accused were lucky not to be serving an immediate custodial sentence and giving the state liberty to re-enter the case should any breach of the conditions occur, Judge Johnson then directed his comments to the victim, Mr Curran.
“In formulating the sentence I want to assure Mr Curran, the victim, that I have been acutely aware of the loss and wrong sustained by him as a consequence of the assault perpetrated on him by each of the accused.
“He may feel that the non-imposition of an immediate custodial sentence is too lenient, however I am satisfied that the sentence imposed incorporates sufficient restrictions on each of the accused, so as to ensure that there is no repeat of the offending activity against him.
“The sentence also endeavours through the compensation element contained in it to give some form of redress and recompense to Mr Curren for the wrong perpetrated on him.”