Friday 28 October 2016

Man jailed for headbutt assault which led to doctors telling victim's wife to 'prepare for the worst' has sentence cut on appeal

Ruaidhrí Giblin

Published 12/02/2016 | 16:56

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A man jailed for a headbutt assault, which led to doctors telling the victim's wife to “prepare for the worst”, has had his sentence cut on appeal.

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Kris Collins (25), with an address at Murphy's Rock, Old Mallow Road, Cork, had pleaded guilty to assaulting a man causing him serious harm in Cork City on September 7, 2014.

He was sentenced to eight years imprisonmnet by Judge Donagh McDonagh at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on June 17, 2015.

Collins successfully appealed his sentence today and the Court of Appeal resentenced him to five years imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the injured party had been socialising in Cork city centre with a friend on the night in question.

It appears the two men approached Collins' girlfriend who was standing outside a bar when “suddenly” and “without warning” a headbutt was delivered to the injured party's head, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

Having been struck, the injured party's head hit the ground heavily as he fell. People in the vicinity heard a thump and when he hit the ground, a crack, prosecuting barrister, Paul Murray BL, told the court.

The injured party didn't seek medical attention apart from first aid administered by security staff but went home. There was some concern that he didn't appear to be walking entirely normally, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

The next day, while alone in his house, he lapsed into unconsciousness while lying on the sofa.

At Cork University Hospital, a CT scan confirmed the presence of a clot between the skull and brain. His wife was told to “prepare for the worst”, Mr Justice Birmingham said, with a “50/50 chance" of him coming through.

He had emergency neurosurgery and the clot was removed. As a result, the pressure on his brain was near normal, the judge said.

His wife told the sentencing court that his whole life had changed following the assault with huge mood swings. She said she found it difficult to watch him crying on a regular basis.

He could not take up employment as a Turkish barber, as he had been due to, and they suffered financial hardship as a result, the judge said.

Collins had 15 previous convictions including one for headbutting a doorman for which he was required to undertake 100 hours of community service. He had positive testimonials, a good work ethic and brought €4,000 compensation to court.

Counsel for Collins, Seán Gillane SC, submitted that the sentencing judge erred in seeing the offence as being in the upper mid-range of seriousness before proceeding to impose a sentence that fell outside of that range as established by case law.

Mr Justice Birmingham said a combination of factors meant the sentence imposed could not statnd.

He said it was a mid-range offence where mitigating factors were present including Collins' co-operation, his guilty plea, offer of compensation and that this was the first time he'd be required to spend time in prison.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice John Edwards, said five years was an appropriate sentence.

He said it was desirable that when Collins completes his sentence, there should be an incentive for him to behave and remain out of trouble.

The court suspended the final 12 months on condition Collins enter into a good behaviour bond for two years post release.

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