Judge Seamus Hughes hit out at two men who assaulted another man with a plank of wood, leaving him with a wound requiring seven stitches to his head after the pair offered €100 compensation money
Two men who assaulted a Romanian man in front of his heavily pregnant girlfriend, leaving him in hospital with a head wound which required seven stitches have been slammed for turning up in court to offer their victim a “derisory” €100 in compensation.
Dylan (19) and Tommy McDonagh, 18 Hazel Grove, Clonbalt Woods, Longford were criticised for their offer to Gheorge Matache at last week’s sitting of Longford District Court after the pair pleaded guilty to attacking the 21-year-old with a piece of timber on April 23 2019.
The court heard how Mr Matache and his girlfriend had first encountered the pair whilst walking close to Longford Post Office at around 2pm.
Sgt Paddy McGirl, prosecuting, alleged Dylan McDonagh, who was travelling in a car with his brother shouted out at Mr Matache.
A short time later, he said a second, more sinister encounter took place as Mr Matache and his eight month pregnant girlfriend walked through the Teffia Park area of town.
Sgt McGirl said Tommy, who was armed with a “piece of timber” together with Dylan McDonagh came up behind them and asked their victim: “What are you going to do now?”
In fear of what was going to happen next, the court heard Mr Matache took off running whilst being pursued by his assailants.
As the chase continued, Sgt McGirl said Mr Matache was struck across the side of the head and assaulted by the pair.
Sgt McGirl said the incident was diffused by an eagle eyed passer by who intervened, resulting in both defendants returning to their car and leaving the scene.
Judge Hughes was informed the injury to Mr Matache required seven stitches in an episode which his girlfriend relayed to the court.
“I was seven to eight months pregnant and I had a big bump,” she said, in revealing both men knew of her fragile state.
“I saw them coming up from behind and I just told him (Mr Matache) to run.”
The woman revealed all four knew each other from their previous spell with Youthreach, a state-funded educational and training programme for early school leavers.
“I just stood in shock and was trying to ring the ambulance when he got hit,” she continued.
“I seen him trying to run as they came towards him.”
Mr Matache, for his part, said his recollection of the day itself was, at best, sketchy.
“I blanked out and I couldn’t remember (a thing),” he said, pausing to state how he was kept in hospital for 12 hours.
In defence, solicitor Bríd Mimnagh said both her clients wished to offer their apologies to Mr Matache and said Tommy McDonagh had initially shouted out to his former school colleague: “Have you got a staring problem?”
She added their had been past history between the quartet and her clients had foolishly decided to take the matter into their own hands instead of going through commonsensical garda means.
Mr Matache accepted there had been ill-feeling between both parties, but said it had resorted to little more than “bad looks” and “bad energy” when all four were in the company of each other.
“These boys will say they were being provoked,” implied Ms Mimnagh.
She went on to explain how the two men’s father had managed to turn his own life around after his own indiscretions with the law and told of how the pair had “got a fair doing from him” in the aftermath of the incident.
Ms Mimnagh continued her mitigation and said Tommy had started a new job in Longford town and was soon after joined there by the victim, a move which felt like “he was being followed.”
Given the duo had no previous convictions to their name, she insisted it would be the first and only time they would be before a court.
Judge Hughes was more cutting in his own appraisal of what had occurred.
“Ye followed this couple out for 20 minutes and you decided to administer your own form of justice,” he said.
“You pulled out a weapon leaving him (victim) incapacitated in hospital with seven stitches. That’s what you did.
“I ask myself if that was my son, what would I expect a court to do. And it wasn’t two against one, it was two against one and a girl who was heavily pregnant and you knew that.”
In making those remarks, Judge Hughes put both men on notice they faced a spell behind bars unless “very substantial” compensation was handed over to Mr Matache.
After a brief consultation, Ms Mimnagh said all both men could offer was €100, an offer which Judge Hughes branded nothing short of “derisory”.
He said: “I wouldn’t have given a prison sentence if you had shown true remorse and the only way to show that was to dig deep into your pockets.”
Sgt McGirl said despite the lack of financial recompense which was being offered, Mr Matache and his partner wanted it made clear they did not want to see both McDonagh’s sent to prison.
“No, no, you can’t follow a couple for 20 minutes and leave a man with seven stitches,” said Judge Hughes.
As he repeated his insistence on both men offering a far greater sum than the €100 which had previously been flagged as compensation, the defendant’s father could be heard shouting from the public gallery: “He (Mr Matache) is every bit of a blaggard as them.”
Judge Hughes stopped short of asking the man to repeat his outburst, but said: “Fortunately, I didn’t hear what the father said and that’s why I feel a lot of pleas of mitigation are rubbish.”
In handing down an eight month prison sentence and suspending the final three months to both, Judge Hughes said he was “not taken in by them” and fixed recognisances at €500 each in the event of both men appealing their sentence.
When the case was recalled 30 minutes later, it emerged the pair had lodged the required monies to preserve their liberty ahead of a likely circuit court appeal.
“It’s amazing that you can come across €1,000 and yet you come up with an insulting €100 for the victim before I rise for lunch,” said Judge Hughes in response.