Three men - one of whom is a minor and did not appear before the sitting, were convicted of assault causing harm following a hearing into the matter at last week’s sitting of Longford Circuit Court.
Two of the men were ordered to pay €10,000 each to the injured party and avail of any support services that were offered to them, while sentencing in the case of the third defendant was adjourned until May.
Jamie Brady (21), 102 Teffia Park, Longford and Danny McLoughlin, 2 Railway Court, Newtownforbes, Co Longford appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson charged with violent disorder and assaulting James Campbell (22) and causing him harm at Battery Road, Longford on September 6, 2015.
The minor was also charged in connection with the incident.
The court heard that Mr Campbell suffered a broken nose and fractured eye socket as a result of the assault which took place in the early hours of the morning not far from Longford Garda Station.
Following his deliberations on the matter Judge Johnson said that Mr Brady had started acting in an aggressive manner towards James Campbell “and was looking for a fight” after an exchange between the pair over the Dublin-Mayo match.
“Mr Campbell said he didn’t want to fight the men and that he wasn’t ‘a fighting type of man’,” added the Judge before pointing out that the matter before him was “clearly an extremely serious unprovoked assault on James Campbell”.
Opening the case, Mr Des Dockery BL on behalf of the State said the case centred around an attack on Mr Campbell who had been walking along the Battery Road in Longford town with his girlfriend and friend, when he was assaulted by the defendants.
“Mr Campbell had attended a GAA match the previous evening and was staying at Fee Court in Longford town,” said Mr Dockery BL before pointing out that the victim was on his way back to his accommodation when the incident occurred.
“It was during the early hours of the morning when Mr Campbell and his group encountered Mr Brady and Mr McLoughlin.” [And the minor].
“They chatted about football and about the Dublin-Mayo match and Mr Campbell and his girlfriend walked on ahead thereafter.”
Meanwhile, the court heard that Mr Campbell said in his statement to the Gardaí that the next thing he knew, the lads were behind him and then he was surrounded by them.
Reading the victim’s statement, Mr Dockery BL pointed out that Mr Campbell then got a “punch to the head” and he was on the ground.
Counsel for the State said that Mr Campbell told the Gardaí that he told the lads, at that stage, that he did not want to fight and was not “a fighting type of a man”.
“I got up and made my way to Fee Court but then I got a Conor McGregor style kick to my eye and fell,” added Mr Campbell, who then pointed out that he eventually made his way to the house on Fee Court and an ambulance was called.
Mr Campbell, the court heard, was initially taken to the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar but was later transferred to St James’ Hospital in Dublin.
After an examination there, doctors sent him to the Eye & Ear Hospital on Adelaide Road, where it was determined that he had a fractured eye socket and broken nasal bones.
Mr Campbell also had extensive bruising and swelling to his face the court was told, and he had to undergo surgery as a result of his injuries.
Medical evidence on behalf of the injured party was then submitted to the court.
“Mr Campbell has attended out-patients on several occasions since his surgery and the medical report confirms that his injuries were consistent with an assault,” said Mr Dockery BL.
Detective Garda Esler then told the court, in his direct evidence, that Jamie Brady lived with his grandfather and had little contact with his parents.
He also stated that Mr McLoughlin resided with his mother and her husband in Newtownforbes and had “issues” with alcohol.
“He is also known to the Gardaí,” added the Detective.
In his victim impact statement Mr Campbell said that he suffered an economic loss of €6,000 as a direct result of medical and hospital costs.
The student also pointed out that he lost €1,000 in earnings from his summer job of which he had just three weeks left to work when he was assaulted by the defendants.
“When I am alone, I am constantly looking over my shoulder thinking someone is following me,” he added.
In mitigation, Mr Shane Geraghty BL, Counsel for Mr McLoughlin said his client had €1,000 in court by way of compensation to Mr Campbell.
“He is very remorseful and there is no attempt to diminish what has occurred,” the Barrister continued.
“Mr McLoughlin had a shocking upbringing; as a teenager he was engaged with the child psychology services.
“He only attended appointments on a couple of occasions and no other services were made available to him after that.”
Counsel went on to say that his client began using alcohol when he was just a teenager and by the age of 17 was taking cocaine.
“He was a minor when he committed the offences before the court and on the night in question there was no premeditation,” Mr Gearty BL continued.
“He found himself part of a set of circumstances that got out of control and while his actions were disgusting, he is lucky that we are not before the Central Criminal Court.”
The court was then told there was a common denominator in the case and that was alcohol and drugs.
“Mr McLoughlin has a placement in Kilkenny - subject to interview - for alcohol and drugs misuse in-treatment,” added Mr Geraghty.
“The Court must adjourn this matter so that he has time to engage with this service.”
Meanwhile, Counsel for Mr Brady said while her client had been an instigator in the matter, his actions on the night had not been premeditated.
“He wasn’t the one to carry out the damage,” she added.
“It appears that it was the ‘Conor McGregor style kick’ that caused the injuries and Mr Brady did make attempts via Facebook to contact Mr Campbell and apologise to him.”
She went on to say that at no time during the case, did her client try to renege on his responsibilities and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
“He is extremely sorry for what he has done,” she added.
“He has been employed in Heaton's since April 2016 and has also enrolled in a Sports & Recreation course at Galway Community College.
“There is a serious issue with drugs and alcohol abuse and he has been abstaining from both since December 2016.
“He is dealing with his anger and is trying to get onto an anger management programme in Athlone at the moment.”
The court then heard that Mr Brady had €2,000 in court by way of compensation for Mr Campbell.
During his deliberations on the matter Judge Johnson said that Mr Campbell had been the victim of a vicious assault, “an appalling assault”.
“It is quite clear to me that while they [defendants] are law abiding citizens here in front of me, they socially became unruly savages,” fumed the Judge.
“To kick a person in the face and then kick him on the ground is an absolute disgrace.”
Judge Johnston then went on to speak about the compensation scheme that had once been in place in Ireland for victims of serious crime.
However, the scheme was abolished during the financial crisis in the 1980s.
“It is a pity that scheme wasn’t reinstated,” said Judge Johnson before indicating that he wanted to structure a sentence that would recompense Mr Campbell and assist in the rehabilitation of the youths before him.
He added; “The victim is no longer as trusting and as trouble-free as he had been and it is clear from the medical reports that he went through a horrible experience, and as a consequence is still suffering in that he has numbness in his eye and has difficulty playing football.”
Meanwhile, the Judge went on to say that one of the reasons why a defendants should be punished, was because they had breached their contract with society to abide by its laws and behave themselves.
“This contract,” added Judge Johnson, “works both ways and society has an obligation to citizens, to ensure that they are protected from criminality.
“Where citizens become the victims of criminality, society makes every effort to undo the wrong that has been perpetrated on them.”
He then handed down his sentence.
“At the time he committed this offence, Jamie Brady had consumed two naggins of Buckfast and eight cans of alcohol,” said Judge Johnson.
“In addition he had used cocaine and MDMA.
“It is clear that Mr Brady was out of his head on drink and drugs when the offences were committed.”
With regards to Danny McLoughlin, the Judge said that the young man was acutely aware that his chronic long-standing issues with substance misuse and anger management contributed “significantly” to his involvement in the incident.
Judge Johnson also indicated that he would adjourn sentencing in this case to May 24 next, to allow the defendant time to engage with the Aislinn treatment centre in Kilkenny.
The Judge then sentenced Mr Brady and the minor to five years in prison but suspended the terms on the grounds that they enter into a bond of €500 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of five years.
They were also ordered to submit themselves to supervision by the Probation Service and refrain from drinking alcohol, taking illicit substances and gambling for five years.
Judge Johnson then ordered that each defendant pay €10,000 to James Campbell by four annual installments of €2,500, the first of which is to be paid by January 2018 with the remaining installments to be paid on or before January 10 in each of the following years.
He also ordered Mr Brady to engage with psychology/mental health services as directed by his GP, for a period of five years.
The defendants were also ordered to distance themselves from antisocial acquaintances for a period of five years.
“Jamie Brady and (minor) need to realise that if they fail to comply with the terms attached to their suspended sentences, the matter will be re-entered and should that happen I will activate all or part of the suspended sentence,” the Judge concluded.