A PENSIONER who stabbed a man in a pub, lacerating his liver, following a row over a horse racing bet, has escaped jail.
Edwin 'Eddie' Holman (78) went home following the row at a pub, only to return with a kitchen knife before lunging at the victim.
William 'Painter' O'Brien (49) suffered a stab wound to his chest on the right lower side, which caused serious injury, including a severe laceration of his liver.
Mr O'Brien was rushed to University Hospital, Limerick, where he spent a week in intensive care and the high-dependency ward.
Yesterday, a judge imposed a three-year sentence on Holman, but then suspended it in full.
Speaking outside the court, his victim, Mr O'Brien, said: "I think he got off very light, there was intent in it. A man goes home and gets a knife and tries to do someone inside in a pub.
"My side is sore enough. He got a very light sentence. I know he's of age, but if I did it I'd get 10 years in jail. I think he got off very light. I think he should have a got a year anyway."
The stabbing occurred at Devane's pub in Hospital, Co Limerick, on April 4, 2012, Limerick Circuit Court heard.
Holman, with an address in Castleconnell, Co Limerick, and formerly of Hospital, Co Limerick, had been asked to leave the pub after the two men had had a verbal argument.
Later, at around 6pm, Holman, a retired driving instructor, went home and had a meal, before returning to the pub armed with a knife.
State prosecutor, Michael Collins, told the court: "Mr O'Brien heard someone shout, 'Watch your back, Billy.'
"He saw Mr Holman approach him from behind with a knife in his hand. He jumped back (from the bar) and was slashed with the knife."
A number of other patrons in the pub assisted Mr O'Brien, who was seriously injured. Gardai located Holman covered in blood in another local pub.
He brought gardai to his home, where he showed them the knife used in the stabbing.
He told them: "I didn't give him a chance. I just went straight for him."
In a victim impact statement, Mr O'Brien said he "suffers nightmares" and has "a fear of socialising late at night". He suffers pain in his legs and chest.
Defence barrister Brian McInerney said Holman "had become isolated in recent years" and was drinking to excess.
He described it as "an unusual case" and said Holman was "a man of good standing" who was "never in trouble in his life".
"He is full of regret," Mr McInerney said. He told Judge Carroll Moran "it would achieve nothing" to send him to prison.
The judge said it was "a very serious matter".
"He could have killed Mr O'Brien," the judge said, adding: "He could have been facing homicide charges."
Holman pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Mr O'Brien and admitted a charge of producing a knife in the course of an assault.
The judge said he took into account Holman's poor health, age and previous good character, before imposing the suspended three-year term.
- David Raleigh