Thursday 8 December 2016

Man throws pint glass at Supermac's manager, causing permanent eye damage

Isabel Hayes

Published 26/07/2016 | 16:56

A YOUNG man who threw a pint glass at a Supermac's manager in Dublin, causing permanent damage to his eye, has avoided jail after a judge decided “with great reluctance” to give him a second chance.

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“For far too long in this city, serious injury, particularly to the face, is caused by beer glasses being thrown late at night by young men who should know better,” Judge Patrick McCartan told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today.

Raymond Byrne (24) of Constitution Hill, Dublin pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Grzegorz Gazek at Supermac's restaurant on Westmoreland Street in the early hours of Christmas Eve, 2013.

Garda Isobel Hannon told Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, that Byrne and a number of other men entered Supermacs at 2.50am on December 24, 2013 before leaving shortly afterwards. Mr Gazek was at the door locking it, when the men walked out. One of them nudged Mr Gazek, while another knocked a poster off the wall.

Once outside, Byrne turned around and threw a pint glass at Mr Gazek, which rebounded off the door and smashed, sending glass into Mr Gazek's face and eye.

Mr Gazek, who was in court, suffered permanent scarring to his cornea in the wake of the assault. His sight was saved, but the damage could lead to later complications, the court heard.

He suffers from headaches and sleeplessness in the wake of the assault, and Gda Hannon said he gave up his job.

“He wouldn't work in such an environment again which involved late nights and boisterous people,” Gda Hannon said.

She told the court that Byrne was identified from CCTV footage. He has no previous convictions.

When questioned by gardaí, Byrne, a father-of-one, couldn't recall much of the incident as he said he had been drunk, but he was “very embarrassed” when he viewed the CCTV footage, Gda Hannon said.

James Dwyer BL, defending, said Byrne's actions were “something of an aberration, a one-off”. He said at the time of the offence, Byrne's father had been diagnosed with cancer. He was also struggling to cope with his partner's cystic fibrosis condition.

In a letter to the victim read out in court, Byrne said: “I find it very hard to forgive myself. I'm very ashamed. I let myself down and I let my family down...I'm a hardworking young man like you. I'm not that kind of person.”

Byrne had €200 in court as a token of remorse for his victim and would work to get more, the court heard.

Judge McCartan said his first instinct had been to send him to jail.

“My immediate reaction was this is another one of those mindless thugs who deserves nothing more than an immediate custodial sentence to send the message to other young men never to raise their hand with a glass in it,” he said.

However, the judge said he had reflected on Byrne's case, noting he was an “otherwise decent young man”.

“Where a person makes one mistake in life, they're entitled to at least one chance,” he said.

He handed down a suspended three-year sentence and ordered Byrne to pay a further €4800 to his victim within six months.

“I hope you realise just how close you came to going to Mountjoy,” he told Byrne, who thanked him and later shook hands with his victim.

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