Wednesday 7 December 2016

Pensioner pictured after beating by two men as 60 teenagers stood by

Barry Duggan

Published 13/10/2011 | 05:00

The injuries suffered to Michael Leech aged 74 at the time of the assault
The injuries suffered to Michael Leech aged 74 at the time of the assault
Michael Leech outside Limerick Circuit Court
Mark Murphy
Charlie Murphy

THIS is the horrifically battered face of a grandfather who was viciously assaulted by two men as sixty teenagers watched.

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The attack they witnessed occurred when Michael Leech (71) waited to collect his wife from bingo.



But many of their parents refused to allow the children to speak to gardai or identify the culprits who attacked Mr Leech outside the community centre in Athea, Co Limerick.



Garda Gerard Griffin, who investigated the attack on Mr Leech in 2008, said that in his 32 years of service he had never come across anything like what he encountered following the assault.



He had to visit the homes of some of the 60 witnesses five or six times to establish the truth as their parents refused to allow their children talk to him.



The victim's wife, Kit, died a year after the assault and Mr Leech's family believe the assault on her husband accelerated her death.



Commended



Passing sentence on three of the young men involved in the incident in Limerick Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, Judge Carroll Moran praised the officers who investigated the attack.



The judge said they had to be commended for a "very thorough investigation" in the circumstances where they were given very little co-operation and faced a stone wall from many who were present.



Charlie Murphy (22), of Hillside Drive, Athea, Co Limerick, and Mark Murphy (21), of Lisselton, Co Kerry, avoided a jail sentence after their victim pleaded for leniency.



Mr Leech, who moved to Athea 32 years ago from London, said he did not want to see them imprisoned. Both men -- who are not related -- pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Mr Leech on October 31, 2008, and received suspended prison sentences of two years.



A third man, Nigel Brouder (21), of Coole West, Athea, received the probation act after he admitted engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour during the same incident.



Mr Leech received a broken nose, black eyes, bruising and lacerations to his face and lost teeth after he confronted teenagers throwing bangers at cars in Athea on the Halloween night.



The judge said he was "badly beaten" in a street melee involving 60 youths on a dark night. He said the victim endured a serious beating and suffered serious consequential injuries, which could be seen from the photographs.



He commended Mr Leech for his "extraordinary charitable position" to his assailants.



Both attackers shook hands with their victim before leaving court.



Irish Independent

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