Saturday 27 December 2014

Man broke victim's skull with hammer after finding him with ex

Jessica Magee and Clare Creedon

Published 04/06/2014 | 17:36

Courts of Criminal Justice

A Dublin plumber who broke a man's skull with a claw hammer after finding him in his former partner's bed has avoided a jail sentence.

Simon Early of Old Brazil Way, Swords got a suspended sentence for the attack which left the victim with a 2.7 cm fracture in his skull.

Early (27) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to David Griffin at Ashton Rise, Swords, North County Dublin, on October 22, 2011.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring sentenced him to two and a half years in prison but suspended it in full on condition that Early keeps the peace for 12 months.

She accepted that the attack was out of character and that Early was sorry but said he could have caused permanent or fatal injury. A probation report said there's a low risk of him re-offending.

Garda David Smith told Anne Rowland BL, prosecuting, that Early had been dropping their two-and-a-half-year old daughter to the home of his former partner Bethany Hourigan.

The court heard that there had been an agreement between the estranged couple that no man would stay over at the house while the child was there.

Early arrived at the house and went upstairs to find Mr Griffin in bed. He went downstairs and then returned wielding a claw hammer which he started at swinging at Mr Griffin's head.

Mr Griffin retreated to the balcony and shouted at Early to relax. He tried to kick the attacker away with both legs, but was backed into the bedroom and fell onto the bed.

The hammer hit his head and Mr Griffin shouted “You're going to kill me,” to which Early responded, “I don't f****** care.”

Early then ran off shouting “I'll deal with you again, Griffo.”

Mr Griffin made a statement to gardaí about a month later and shortly afterwards he returned to live in Australia.

He gave a victim impact statement over the phone to gardaí, saying he fears the long-term effects of his skull fracture and still suffers headaches. He also said he was nervous around people in certain situations.

Mr Griffin told gardaí he was not keen for a custodial sentence to be imposed on Early as he was the father of a young child.

Early has four minor previous convictions, all public order offences.

John Fitzgerald BL, defending, said his client told gardaí there had been an “altercation” after he arrived at the house to drop off his daughter.

Letters were handed to the court from members of the local GAA team where Early plays, describing him as someone whom other players look up to and respect.  His mother and the mother of his former partner, described him as a very good father.

The court heard that he is an unemployed plumber but offered €2,000 as a gesture of remorse to the victim. The victim refused the money, so Judge Ring asked him to nominate a charity.

Irish Independent

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