Thursday 20 November 2014

Stag night attacker avoids jail after plea to judge from victim

Greg Harkin

Published 18/07/2014 | 02:30

Sean Gallagher and Ian Balfour shake hands outside the court.

A FARMER on a stag weekend who stabbed a bouncer in the eye with a pint glass, leaving him partially blind, has walked free from court after the victim pleaded with a judge not to jail him.

Sean Gallagher (41) lost the sight in his right eye, and may lose the sight in his other eye, after he was glassed in the pub where he had worked as a doorman for 16 years.

But as his attacker, 38-year-old Ian Balfour, was being sentenced at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday, Mr Gallagher asked Judge Matthew Deery if he could speak from the witness box.

Balfour, who had gathered €51,000 in compensation from family and friends, addressed his victim in court first.

"From the bottom of my heart I apologise for the injuries I caused you. I came to Letterkenny to have a good time and I don't know how these events happened. I honestly and humbly apologise to you. If I could undo what happened, I would," he said.

Mr Gallagher said that as well as being a doorman at the Central Bar in Letterkenny, he was also a small farmer in Glenswilly, 3km from the town.

"I worked at the Central Bar for the past 16 years. It is my main source of my family income. I am unable to return to work," said the father of four.

After hearing character references on behalf of Balfour, Mr Gallagher told the judge: "I want to inform you that I don't want to see Mr Balfour getting a severe sentence. I fully accept his apology."

Judge Matthew Deery said that considering all the circumstances he was sentencing Balfour to three years in prison but suspended the sentence for three years.

Judge Deery told Balfour: "You are lucky to escape a custodial sentence and it is due to the good will of Mr Gallagher."

The men met outside court after the case and shook hands with each other.

Irish Independent

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