Man jailed over 'prank' that left victim with 75pc burns
A Trinity College law graduate has been jailed for three-and-a-half years after he set fire to the costume of a medical student causing 75pc burns to his body.
Galway Circuit Criminal Court heard Brian Keane (23), from Templemore Road, Thurles, Tipperary, was drunk when he went up behind Matthew Sheridan on the dance floor of a Galway night club, took out his lighter and set his sheep costume on fire. The law graduate was yesterday sentenced to five years in prison, with 18 months suspended, after he pleaded guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious bodily harm.
Garda Sean McHugh told the court the incident was captured on CCTV at 12.19am on November 1, 2012.
Prosecuting barrister Conor Fahy said people had to use their own jumpers and water to put the flames out as the victim was writhing in agony.
Mr Sheridan screamed in pain all the way to hospital, where he had to be placed in an induced coma.
Garda McHugh said Keane left the nightclub immediately but went to gardai the next day on the advice of a friend and identified himself. He didn't accept he had put the lighter to the costume intentionally.
Gardai had to wait until May 2013 to interview Mr Sheridan due to the extent of his injuries, They arrested Keane the following October, when he accepted the injuries were caused by him. He claimed it was a prank that went wrong and that he had not intended to cause harm to anybody.
He was told Mr Sheridan had suffered up to 75pc burns to his body and had been at serious risk of dying. Bernard Madden SC, defending, said his client wanted to write a letter of apology after the incident but had been advised by his solicitor not to do so.
A letter written by Keane - who is now on antidepressants and is seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist - and read out in court said: "The level of hurt and shame I feel is beyond words.
The judge said the accused, in a mindless and alcohol-fuelled act of madness, changed the life of another person forever.