Thursday 29 September 2016

Man who punched tourist after her boyfriend refused him a cigarette avoids jail

Fiona Ferguson

Published 01/07/2016 | 19:25

Dublin city (Stock picture)
Dublin city (Stock picture)

A man who punched a tourist after her boyfriend refused him a cigarette has received a three year suspended sentence.

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Sean McKevitt (30) became irate with the man and witnesses said he went to punch him but missed and hit the woman instead.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard he was homeless and begging at the time but there had been a turnaround in his life. He and his partner had been allocated housing allowing them to celebrate their first Christmas off the streets in four years.

McKevitt, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to assaulting Zoe Jackson causing her harm at Temple Bar Square, Dublin on May 6, 2013. He has 117 previous convictions mainly for public order offences.

Judge Patricia Ryan suspended a sentence of three years after hearing evidence that McKevitt was currently on a methadone maintenance programme.

Garda Louise Duffy told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that the couple and friends of theirs had sat down to listen to buskers in Temple Bar at about 2am. McKevitt joined the group and he became aggressive when Ms Jackson's boyfriend refused his request for a cigarette.

Ms Jackson said McKevitt asked her if that was her man and he told her he was “going to get it.”

She said the next thing she remembers was being punched to the face and taken to hospital for treatment. She suffered a laceration and fracture to her right eye. She spent five days in hospital and suffered double vision for a time.

Gda Duffy agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, that some witnesses described McKevitt aiming a punch at Ms Jackson's boyfriend but that the man moved out of the way and Ms Jackson suffered the injury.

She agreed that McKevitt had denied the assault and could not remember being in Temple Bar that night. Mr Le Vert said McKevitt wanted to convey an apology to his victim.

He said that McKevitt had developed a serious drug problem as a teenager and spent a lot of time on the streets. He said he and his current partner who was also homeless, “saved each other” but had been finding it difficult to access accommodation as a couple.

They had now been housed together and there had been a huge increase in positive aspects of McKevitt's life, counsel said.

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