Sunday 22 October 2017

Vet who glassed accountant in cocktail bar gets suspended sentence

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Conor Gallagher and Declan Brennan

An Veterinarian who glassed an accountant in a city centre cocktail bar, leaving him with lifelong scarring, has received a suspended prison sentence.

Stephen McGrath (25) smashed a glass into Mark Relihan's face in a row over whether there was enough space on a bench they were both sitting on.

Suspending a three year prison sentence for two years Judge Petria McDonnell said that she accepted that McGrath's remorse and apology to the victim were genuine.

She also imposed 200 hours of community service.

McGrath of Carmarthen in Wales, but originally from Tullamore, Co Offaly, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of assault causing harm on September 6, 2015 in No Name Bar on Fade Street, Dublin.

During a hearing of the case last October Mr Relihan confronted McGrath over his injuries.

After reading his victim impact statement he turned to his attacker and held up a picture of his facial injuries and said: “This is what you've done to me. You see this? This is what you ran away from”.

McGrath confronted Relihan over whether there was enough space on a bench they were both sitting on. McGrath said he would give Mr Relihan ten seconds to move and began counting down.

Mr Relihan looked at his friends and said “Is this guy for real?” before McGrath smashed a glass into his face. Fragments from the glass also hit another man, Shane O'Riordan, who was standing nearby.

Mr Relihan was taken to hospital where he required 17 stitches to his face. Mr O'Riordan suffered minor cuts and was treated at the scene.

Mr Relihan told the court his life had been impacted forever by the “unprovoked, cruel, inhumane act”. He has already had some plastic surgery and said he would likely require more.

He said he may have to have fat extracted from his torso to fill in a cavity in his face which was caused by the attack. Judge McDonnell told the victim the cavity looked more like a dimple but said she understood the effect it had on him.

McGrath was in Dublin while on a trip home from Wales where he works in a veterinary practice treating farm animals.

The victim, who works in an accountancy firm, said his professional reputation was left in “tatters” following the attack due to his facial scarring. He said he was a different person mentally and physically and sometimes had to leave social situations due to anxiety.

“I need to see he pays a price for his actions so I can move on,” Mr Relihan said. “I wonder how many people have to end up injured and even dead for this to be taken seriously.”

Garda Barry Keegan told prosecuting counsel, Monika Leech BL, that McGrath was in the bar with a large group of trainee and newly-qualified vets when the assault took place.

McGrath left the area afterwards but was identified by Gda Keegan. When the garda contacted him that weekend, McGrath said he was in Tullamore watching a hurling match. The garda went to Tullamore only to discover McGrath was still in Dublin.

He was arrested and interviewed during which he admitted the attack and said he was sorry.

Defence counsel, Justin McQuade BL, said his client had €10,000 for Mr Relihan as a token of his remorse. Mr Relihan does not want the money and is planning on taking a civil case, the court heard.

Counsel said the attack was “the stuff of nightmares” and he had been instructed to publicly apologise to the victim. He called evidence from McGrath's sister, who said he lost his mother at a very young age in a traffic accident.

Mr McQuade appealed for leniency and said McGrath could be kicked out of the veterinarian's professional body because of the case.

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