A MAN has avoided jail for an assault in a fast food restaurant after the court heard he could no longer emigrate to Canada because of the offence.
Fintan Freeman (27) punched a man once knocking him down after becoming involved in a verbal dispute with a couple who interjected in a disagreement he was having with a staff member over having to pay an extra 90 cent for cheese.
Before the assault Freeman was hit by Gavin McCabe’s girlfriend who also threw food at him.
Freeman hit Mr McCabe following on-going abusive verbal exchanges between the parties who had all been socialising separately in local pubs earlier in the night.
The victim, who was knocked to the ground and hit his head, suffered a fracture to the base and vault of his skull as well as a laceration and bleeding within his brain and from his ear.
Freeman told gardai he was acting in self defence and thought he was going to be attacked when the man stood up.
Mr McCabe told gardai he heard Freeman shouting insults at his girlfriend and wanted to stop him without starting a fight.
Freeman, of Glenageary Park, Dun Laoghaire, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at Abrakebabra, Georges Street Upper, Dun Laoighaire on December 31, 2011. He has no previous convictions and had been due to emigrate with his partner a week after the assault.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring noted the serious effects a head injury can have and told Freeman: “One punch has killed people in the past.”
She noted the impact the assault has had on Mr McCabe both physically and financially due to being out of work. He also suffers anxiety when he is out and about.
“While you may not have anticipated the damage to him, that is the risk you take when you hit someone to the head,” said Judge Ring, “You are lucky nothing more serious happened.”
Judge Ring accepted Freeman’s life had been put on hold while the case was being dealt with and that he would now have difficulties getting travel visas. “You are going to be punished into the future,” she said.
She said that taking into account his history, admissions, his efforts to overcome his issues and genuine remorse she was willing to give him a chance.
Judge Ring imposed a three year sentence which she suspended on strict conditions including that he pay over the sum of €2,500 to The Samaritans and €2,500 to the St Vincent de Paul.
Ronan Prendergast BL, defending, had submitted that Freeman had a good work history and prospects but his planned move to Canada a week after the assault could not go ahead as he had to hand in his passport as part of his bail conditions.
Mr Prendergast said Freeman had apologised for the assault and the injured party had not wished to accept an offer of €15,000 in compensation.
He asked the court to take into account there had been provocation and that Freeman had immediately said to gardai he was acting in self defence. He said all parties had consumed a large amount of alcohol and Freeman had panicked after the assault.