Tuesday 25 October 2016

Stonemason who carried out two unprovoked assaults jailed for three and a half years

Sonya McLean

Published 01/07/2015 | 16:20

Judge's gavel
Judge's gavel

A stonemason who carried out two unprovoked serious assaults one of which was on a friend has been jailed for three and half years.

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Michael Noonan (34) had been at a memorial night for a friend of his who had been murdered in Australia when he punched a glass into Gary Rigley's face. He then turned to Mr Rigley's brother, Shaun and beat him about the head and face.

Garda Andrew O'Donnell told Cathleen Noctor BL, prosecuting, that CCTV footage of the incident shows Noonan and his friend Gary Rigley having a conversation before Mr Rigley hugged him twice.

Mr Rigley then raised his pint glass to his mouth before Noonan punched the base of the glass smashing through it and into his friend's mouth.

A victim impact report from Mr Rigley stated that he estimated that his dental bills would ultimately cost in the region of €20,000 or €30,000. He said he didn't want Noonan to go to jail but he would like a letter of apology and money towards his medical expenses.

The previous May, Noonan had been speaking to a friend in a nightclub in Leopardstown, when Thomas Kelly approached them.

Noonan didn't realise at the time that Mr Kelly knew the man he was speaking to and a brief confrontation arose between them which ended when Noonan elbowed Mr Kelly directly to the face, knocking the man to the ground and rendering him unconscious.

He was later treated in hospital for multiple skull fractures and haemorrhaging. Mr Kelly had no recollection of the assault and Noonan later admitted that it should not have happened.

Noonan of Granitefield, Rochestown Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Mr Kelly causing him harm at Club 92, Leopardstown on May 5, 2014.

He also admitted assaulting Mr Rigley causing him harm and assaulting Shaun Rigley at The Magic Carpet Bar, Cabinteely, on September 7, 2014. He had 10 previous convictions which were all for public order offences apart from a suspended sentence handed down in February 2005 for another assault.

Judge Martin Nolan said Noonan seems to be an extraordinary strong man that the blows he delivered came with such considerable force to cause such serious injuries.

He said in the incident involving Mr Kelly, Noonan completely misread the situation leaving the man with fractures and haemorrhaging which had long term effects on him.

“This was a totally unprovoked assault,” the judge said.

Judge Nolan said the second incident occurred when Noonan was among friends. He noted evidence that Noonan had organised the night himself as he had been in Australia with his friend when he was murdered.

His friend had ended up on a life support for six weeks following an assault and Noonan had provided huge support to both his friend and that man's family.

“He is a very strong man who was at the time prone to loosing control,” Judge Nolan said before he added there was “long history of lapses of control causing him to behave aggressively and in a hostile way”.

“One assault to some degree is forgivable whereas two assaults with his history is totally unforgivable,” Judge Nolan said before he jailed Noonan for three and half years.

Michael Bowman SC, defending, said his client had written letters of apology. He described the assaults “as two troubling incidents” and accepted that Noonan had completely misinterpreted the first incident.

Counsel said his client works in the family stonemason business and feels “sick to the stomach” for what he has done.

Garda David Maloney told Ms Noctor that Mr Kelly spent five days in hospital following the assault under observation for a head injury. He suffered from “awful headaches” for two weeks and couldn't eat because he was too sick.

Noonan arrived at the garda station the day after the assault and made a statement.

He claimed he thought Mr Kelly was starting a fight with his friend but after he knocked him to the ground, his friend asked him why he had done it and explained that he knew the victim.

He was questioned some time later by gardaí. Noonan said the assault was not pre-meditated telling officers “I have nothing to say. It should not have happened.”

Gda O'Donnell said Mr Rigley suffered significant injuries to his face and teeth. He had cuts to the tissues surrounding his teeth, four loose teeth and a fractured jaw. He was on a liquidised diet for some time.

He said that Mr Rigley recalled talking to an older man and having a laugh with him but Noonan accused him of having no respect for the man. The victim didn't recollect hugging Noonan but said the next thing that happened was the glass was punched into his face.

Noonan told gardaí in interview that the Rigley brothers had been jeering the older man. He said it had been a very emotional day and he regretted what had happened.

Gda O'Donnell agreed with Mr Bowman that Noonan's friend was on life support for six weeks in Australia before he passed away. He said Noonan stayed with him and his family during that time and later became involved in organising this annual fundraising night in the man's honour.

The garda agreed that Noonan admitted it had been an unwarranted attack and that he didn't understand why he had done it because there had been no argument between him and Mr Rigley.

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