independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Dublin man jailed for six years for attack on American tourists

The Central Criminal Court

A Dublin man has received a six year sentence for his role in viciously attacking two American tourists who had tried to stop a city centre robbery.

A garda told the court at the sentence hearing that the tourists attempted to get into several taxis to escape when the attackers threw glass bottles.  He said the “drivers didn’t want to know about it”.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring criticised this failure to help the victims, saying the attack “happened in a public place, on the quays, in one of the busiest places in the city and yet shamefully no-one came to the assistance of these men.”

Anthony Clifford (23) of Mourne Road, Drimnagh pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of violent disorder in Temple Bar on April 29, 2012. He will serve this new sentence consecutively to a prison term for hijacking.

One of the victims, Garth Russell, is a stock broker in New York. He suffered permanent facial scarring and still has glass embedded in his face. The court heard his career has suffered greatly because he no longer meets with clients due to his scar.

The court heard that his brother Patrick suffered a broken arm as he tried to defend himself against a punch from one of the group.

Judge Ring called it “an outrageous attack” and said Clifford could have been facing eight years in prison if he had taken a trial.

She suspended the final 12 months of the six year sentence because of his early guilty plea, which she acknowledged meant the two victims didn’t have to come back to the country to “relive the horror” of the attack.

Garda Amanda Flood told prosecuting counsel John Fitzgerald BL that the brothers were staying in a Temple Bar hotel and were walking through the area in the evening when they came across a man lying on the ground surrounded by a group of youths.

When they realised the man was being robbed, Garth Russell stepped in and said “come on guys, break it up.” He said he would call the gardaí if the group didn’t leave the man alone. The youths responded by telling him to mind his own business.

The garda said they began “squaring up” to Garth and threatening him, at which point his brother Patrick stepped in.

The group began assaulting the brothers by “throwing punches” causing them to flee down an alley onto the quays.

The group gave chase, taking glass bottles from a bin in the alley and throwing them at the brothers. Garth and Patrick tried to get into several taxis to escape but the drivers would not let them in.

The youths, which included Clifford, caught up to them and began hitting them with the bottles. Garth was hit in the face with glass and got a blow to the back of the head after which “everything went dark”.

One of the attackers “smirked” at Patrick as he hit him with another bottle. His forearm was also broken as he tried to defend himself from a punch.

Gardaí arrived after the attackers fled and recognise Clifford on CCTV footage. He was arrested and in interview said he was “just helping his mates.” He admitted punching one of the victims but denied using bottles.

Clifford has 55 previous convictions including drug dealing and hijacking a car.

The court heard several other people alleged to have taken part in the offence have opted to take a trial date for next June.

Clifford’s defence counsel, John Costello BL, said his client was drunk and on drugs at the time but is now making efforts to address these problems.

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