A Killiney man who broke a teenager’s eye socket with a single punch in a case of mistaken identity has been given a two and half year suspended sentence.
The attacker, Conor O’Regan (22), had been out socialising with friends when he claimed he had been set upon by a group of people.
He and his friends then tried to find the people who had been causing him trouble and wrongly identified Cian O’Hara, then 18 years old, as one of the culprits.
Mr O’Hara tried to tell him he had nothing to do with it but O’Regan hit him a blow to the side of his face.
The victim told gardaí he felt a cracking sensation and was left stunned. He later needed a metal plate inserted into his left eye socket which had been fractured by the punch.
O’Regan of Bay View Court, Killiney, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Mr O’Hara causing him harm on Marine Road, Dun Laoghaire on September 22, 2012. He has no previous convictions and has not come to garda attention since.
O’Regan stood in court to apologise to Mr O’Hara: “Cian, I apologise for my actions and I am very sorry for what I have done to you and your family. I will never do anything like that again.”
Mr O’Hara, who had stated in his victim impact report that he didn’t believe O’Regan was a bad person, replied “Cheers, thank you”.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring commented that parents worry about their “children, who are no longer children, getting home safely” while out socialising.
She informed Mr O’Hara that O’Regan will have a permanent marker on his record but said that the man had “met the case honourably in contrast with the way he acted on the night in question”.
She accepted that O’Regan had €3,000 in court as a token of his contrition and that he recognises the consequences of his actions before she suspended the two and half year sentence on strict conditions.
Judge Ring wished both O’Regan and Mr O’Hara the best of luck for the future.
Garda Brian Whitney told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting that O’Regan’s friends pulled him away from Mr O’Hara after the punch and a scuffle broke out.
The garda then appeared on the scene and asked the man if he wanted to make a complaint but he refused saying he and O’Regan were friends. Mr O’Hara then approached the garda and pointed out O’Regan as his attacker.
O’Regan was arrested and made a cautioned statement to gardaí the following month.
He said that he had been set upon by a group of people earlier in the night and he thought he was going to be killed.
He admitted that he had then pointed out the wrong group of people to his friends and claimed he had “lost it” when Mr O’Hara proclaimed his innocence.
O’Regan told gardaí his actions on the night where completely out of character and described himself as a non-violent person.
“I am sorry for what I have done and I have stopped drinking as a result,” Mr O’Regan said.
Mr O’Hara stated in his victim impact report that he incurred almost €1,500 in hospital charges and was left with a swollen eye for two to three weeks.
He felt anxious in social settings afterwards and his appearance made him apprehensive in his first few weeks of starting college.
Mr O’Hara said that he didn’t believe O’Regan was a bad person but that he believed there should be consequences for his actions. He said he felt lucky that the punch didn’t have more serious consequences.
Gda Whitney agreed with Michal Bowman BL, defending that this was “a classic case of mistaken identity slash unprovoked assault”.
He accepted that O’Regan “just snapped” on the night, that his remorse is genuine and he is “unlikely to darken the doors of a court room again”.
Mr Bowman said his client suffers from hyper-anxiety and panic attacks which he described as something that has “socially blighted him for a long time”.
He submitted that a report from the Probation Service concluded that this was a once-off incident which was out of character.