Tuesday 17 October 2017

Former footballer jailed for leaving man in vegetative state after assault with brick

Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

A FORMER footballer who left a young man in a near vegetative state after hitting him with a brick across the head, has been jailed for two and a half years.

Shane Byrne (19) originally from Kilcarrig Avenue, Tallaght Co Dublin but living in Tuam Co Galway pleaded guilty to reckless assault causing serious harm to Shane Grogan on August 5, 2012, which left him with profound brain injuries.

Mr Byrne, who once played with Shamrock Rovers, admitted hitting Mr Grogan over the head with a brick after an altercation at Fairgreen in Tuam in the early hours of August 5, 2012.

The court heard that the assault left Mr Grogan with serious brain injuries and he has spent the last 15 months in hospital. He was rushed to University Hospital Galway and transferred to Beaumont where he underwent a number of operations. He has since spent three months in the National Rehabilitation Care Centre in Dun Laoghaire before being returned to Galway hospital.

Det Sgt Michael O'Driscoll told the court that during questioning Mr Byrne had apologised for the incident.

'When asked whether he was sorry, he said; 'Yes I'm sorry for hitting him in the head with a brick, I just keep picturing him in my head when I close my eyes,'" said Det Sgt O'Driscoll.

Despite extensive treatment there has been little improvement in his condition, the court was told. He remains in a minimal conscious state with some eye movement. He has a tracheostomy tube and must also be fed through a tube. He requires 24 hour nursing care. His family are now fundraising to allow their son return home for periods of time.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Grogan's father Joe Grogan said the incident had left the family broken hearted.

"Shane has suffered a serious brain injury and we do not know what the future holds for him. So far he has lost 15 months of his life he can never get back. Our lives have also been turned upside-down. Nothing prepares you for this and all we can do as a parent, sister or other family member is to care for Shane as best we can. A lot of the time you feel helpless. All the time you are heartbroken," he said.

The court heard that Mr Byrne had no previous convictions and came from a good family. A probation report said that Mr Byrne was at low risk of re-offending.

In his ruling Judge Ruairi McCabe said neither party had set out to cause injury describing the confrontation as reckless as opposed to intentional. He imposed a five year sentence, suspending the final two and a half years. He added that time already served by Mr Bryne should be taken into account.

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