A YOUNG man and woman have been acquitted of manslaughter following the death of a 20-year-old student on New Year's Day 2012.
A judge spoke of the worrying frequency of street attacks as the pair were convicted on lesser assault charges.
Andrew Dolan was a young man "with considerable promise" whose life was snuffed out after the street assault in Mullingar.
They jury heard harrowing evidence of how he pleaded "don't hit me, please don't hit me" during his final moments of consciousness.
Jessica Hughes (21), of Greenfield Heights, Rathwire, Killucan, Co Westmeath, and Patrick Daly (24), of Mulphedder, Clonard, Co Meath, had both denied manslaughter.
The jury at Mullingar Circuit Court acquitted them on the manslaughter charge but found Mr Daly guilty of assault causing harm and Ms Hughes guilty of assault. Another man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Mr Dolan, a biomedical student from Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, was fatally injured during an assault on Pearse Street in Mullingar on December 23, 2011. He died in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin on January 1, 2012.
Judge Anthony Hunt described Mr Dolan as "a young man with considerable promise" and noted: "There is a grieving family." He labelled the altercation which led to Mr Dolan's death as a "very unpleasant scene which happens all too frequently".
The court, sitting in Tullamore, had been told that the two accused were with Patrick Farrell in Abrakebabra in Mullingar at 2.40am on the night of December 23.
An alleged comment led to an altercation outside, which ended in Mr Dolan receiving a serious head injury as a result of being knocked to the ground by Farrell, who has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
The prosecution failed to prove that Hughes and Daly embarked on a joint enterprise with Farrell which led to Mr Dolan's manslaughter.
The jury began deliberating on Tuesday afternoon and requested evidence from a number of civilian witnesses be replayed yesterday.
It included the evidence of Aidan Conroy, a bar manager who was present on Pearse Street when the assault occurred.
He said: "I heard a lad shouting in the middle of the street. He was shouting, 'don't hit me, please don't hit me!'"
Mr Conroy was just metres from Mr Dolan when he fell. He described it as an " unmerciful blow" which left him shocked and sickened.
Another witness, Shane Daly recalled Mr Dolan backing away. "His hands were down so you could tell he was never in a situation like that before," he remarked.
During the altercation he witnessed "the female came in and threw a couple of slaps" before stepping back and "holding back the guy who was originally fighting".
The judge ordered probation and community-service reports on Daly and Hughes. They are to be sentenced on April 7.
Mr Dolan's family, who had attended the full seven-day trial, declined to comment after the case.