A LOUTH man who killed a teenager by viciously beating and kicking the 18-year-old until he was like "like a rag doll" has been sentenced to 13 years in jail.
Unemployed father-of-three Douglas Ward (36), with an address at Loughantarve, Knockbridge, Co Louth had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Niall Dorr, on October 13, 2010, at the Central Criminal Court on the morning of his trial on October 30 last.
Mr Justice Paul Carney said that alcohol does not afford a defence and that an aggravating feature was that Ward had killed Mr Dorr while he was in Dundalk answering a bail hearing that morning.
The court had heard that a number of 999 calls were made at around 9pm stating a young man was lying unconscious on the footpath in Castle Road, Dundalk, partially dressed and underneath a parked car.
The teenager was identified as Niall Dorr and was rushed to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda where his condition deteriorated rapidly. He was transferred to Beamount Hospital where it was discovered he had irrecoverable brain damage and surgical intervention was not possible.
The court heard Ward, who had been drinking all day after his court hearing, was with four males and two females who were trying to gain access to a house party at Castle Road when Mr Dorr and his two friends were walking by making their way home.
Detective Pat Marry told prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC that an incident at a fairground the previous night, which Mr Dorr and Ward were not involved in, may have sparked the row between the groups.
“It was a chance encounter between the groups,” said Det Marry. “During the fracas, Mr Dorr became isolated with Mr Ward and he was assaulted in a very violent fashion,” said Det Marry.
“Mr Dorr was trying to keep the peace,” he added.
A witness told gardai she saw Ward “bouncing” Mr Dorr's head off the road up to ten times and kicking him in the head a number of times. She said Mr Dorr was “like a rag doll and was totally unresponsive.”
Another witness gave a graphic account to gardai, saying it was a “continuous beating with vicious kicking and punching.”
A third witness said he saw a “fella on the ground who looked like he was lifeless and a man kicking and stomping on his head.” He said Ward was “banging” Mr Dorr's head off the wheel of a parked car. Ward constantly denied to gardai he was at the scene, despite his DNA being found on a cigarette found at the scene and his DNA on Mr Dore's T-shirt.
After the incident, Ward and another male got a taxi to an off-licence where they bought more alcohol and returned to his home. Dr Marie Cassidy said Mr Dorr died on October 14, 2010, as a result of head trauma and a fracture to the skull which caused haemorrhaging. She noted a zig-zag pattern on Mr Dorr's forehead which she concluded he was “struck with an object of pattern such as a shoe in a stamping motion”.
In a statement after the sentencing of Ward, Niall's father David, mother Veronica and brother Shane, said “nothing can ever bring Niall back or take away the pain and suffering which we have endured since that terrible night.”
“Niall was the peacemaker and didn't want harm to come to anyone. But little did he know that he was dealing with bloodthirsty thugs. To knock a person unconscious and then to repeatedly bang his head off the ground and kick his lifeless body into a pulp is just the stuff of animals,” said Mr Dorr.
He said that this week was the first time they had heard the full story of what had happened to Niall - “the violent manner in which he died and the horrific injuries he suffered which were graphically detailed in court.”
He said that Niall, who had represented Ireland for several years at the World Champion Kick Boxing, winning a bronze medal in 2004 and a silver medal in 2009, was an organ donor and his legacy is that five people are still alive today after receiving transplants of his organs.
“We would urge everyone to follow his example and carry an organ donor card,” said Mr Dorr.
He added: “To his genuine friends who miss him, just as much as we do, we have a place in our hearts for you all. Your love for him has shone through even in the darkest days and we now say thanks.”
“A new chapter in our lives begins now and sadly Niall is not in it. We will hold very dear his memory and will never let go,” added Mr Dorr.
Mr Justice Carney sentenced Ward to 16 years with the final three years suspended and ordered that Ward undergo 18 months’ post-release supervision and to keep away from the Dorr family.