A TRAINED kickboxer who viciously assaulted a pensioner before robbing him of €3 in loose change has been jailed for three years.
In his victim impact statement, Eamon Horan (76), a retired sports journalist with 'The Kerryman', told Tralee Circuit Criminal Court he was still scared to walk the streets of his hometown.
David Garbanowski (18), of Shanakill Court, Tralee, pleaded guilty to assaulting and robbing the then 75-year-old as he walked home in the early hours of July 28, 2011.
Sentencing him to three years in jail, Judge Carroll Moran said it was one of the worst cases he'd come across in his 16 years on the bench.
The court heard that Mr Horan was making the short trip to his home, having enjoyed a few sociable drinks with friends in his local pub, when he was accosted by Garbanowski, who was then aged 16, and two other hoodie-wearing youths.
Garbanowski, who is originally from Poland and has participated in kickboxing exhibition matches, pushed Mr Horan against a wall and punched him five or six times into the face, breaking his jaw in two places, fracturing his nose and leaving him with other head, chest and facial injuries.
"Three guys were on me before I could even see them in the dark," Mr Horan told the Irish Independent. "I can remember when they were hitting me thinking, 'Is this really happening?'
"They were saying, 'Give us money' and I was on the ground and they were belting me around and I said I had no money."
The savage beating was interrupted by taxi driver Pat Hurley, who noticed the fracas on the pavement and stopped his cab.
At that point, Garbanowski and his unknown accomplices made their escape.
Mr Hurley brought a battered and bleeding Mr Horan to Tralee garda station from where he was taken to Kerry General Hospital. He was later referred to Cork University Hospital for specialist treatment.
After the attack, Mr Horan couldn't chew food and had to be on a liquid diet for a year.
He publicly thanked "good Samaritan" Mr Hurley for saving his life. "I wouldn't have survived if it wasn't for the actions of Pat Hurley. I'm deeply indebted to him.
"I'm one of the lucky ones because I'm standing here today and that's no thanks to the thug who assaulted, pummelled and beat me," he added.
Mr Horan has made a good recovery physically, which he puts down to the support of his daughter Carla, partner, sister, friends and the good wishes of people from all over the country.