A MAN has been given a suspended sentence for a pub assault which left his victim with a fractured skull, facial injuries and on-going pain.
The investigation into the assault initially ran into a dead end until Kevin McSwiggan (36) approached his victim two years later to apologise after spotting him in a pub. Gardai were later able to identify him on CCTV from that encounter.
He had been unaware of the extent of his victim’s injuries or that gardai had been looking for him.
McSwiggan went voluntarily to the garda station less then an hour after gardai called to his house in January 2013 and spoke to his partner. He admitted his role in the offence and expressed remorse.
McSwiggan formerly of Infirmary Road, but now living in Kilrush, Co Clare pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Peter Curley causing him harm at Wynnefield Road, Rathmines on the night of May 1 to 2, 2010. He has no previous convictions.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring said it was a sorry situation for both men. She said McSwiggan was paying a high price for his loss of control through alcohol and Mr Curley would suffer into the future with his injuries.
“It will probably not be the last case of its nature until we as a society learn to curb the use and abuse of alcohol,” she said.
Judge Ring imposed a two and a half year sentence which she suspended on condition McSwiggan complete the restorative justice program. She directed that the €5,000 he had brought to court be paid over to his victim.
Sandra Frayne BL, defending, said her client is extremely remorseful and very ashamed. She said he knew he had drank too much on the night and has taken steps to address his drinking.
She handed in testimonials and reports on his behalf and noted a Probation Service report which assessed him as at low risk of re-offending.
Ms Frayne said McSwiggan began a Higher Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy in 2009 and wants to embark on that as a career. She said he hopes to assist people going down the road he has been down already.
Garda Conor Doyle told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that Mr Curley had been in Slattery’s bar with friends when McSwiggan, who was unknown to them, joined their company and began chatting.
Mr Curley recalled a confrontation between him and McSwiggan and the next thing he remembered was being in hospital. He suffered fractures to his skull, necessitating the insertion of a plate, and sustained a badly damaged cheek bone.
Mr Curley’s sister said her brother had made a comment to her and McSwiggan had taken issue with this even though she said it was fine and did not bother her.
Another witness recalled being several feet away from the group and hearing raised voices. He heard raised voices again 10 minutes later and heard stools moving as the two men stood up.
He said McSwiggan punched Mr Curley to the face. He fell backwards and stumbled in the direction of the fire door. McSwiggan hit him again and Mr Curley fell back against the door and out onto the street.
The witness tried to put himself between the men at this stage but McSwiggan again punched Mr Curley who fell to the ground. The witness stopped McSwiggan running at Mr Curley and McSwiggan left the scene.
On August 10, 2012 Mr Curley was in Roddy Boland’s pub when a hand appeared in front of him. He shook it but then recognised the person who offered the hand as the man who had assaulted him two years earlier. McSwiggan said he wished to apologise.
Mr Curley refused to accept the apology and explained his injuries and that he had undergone surgery. He later went to gardai and they retrieved CCTV from Roddy Boland’s and identified McSwiggan.
Gda Doyle agreed with Sandra Frayne BL, defending, that he admitted he had been drunk and could not confirm or deny the witness statements because he could not remember. He agreed McSwiggan was contrite and cooperative.
Ms Frayne said while Mr Curley was studying for a Communications degree in DCU he had been living with a friend who was abusing drugs. His friend died of a overdose in 2006 which brought him to his senses and he has not touched drugs since.
She said when he became aware of his victims injuries in 2012 he re-examined his relationship with alcohol and now rarely consumes it.
She said he was someone who was extremely honest and came from an impeccable background. He is ashamed and has apologised for the offence.