Teen jailed after boy lost eye in glass attack
A teenager who smashed a glass in the face of a schoolboy leaving him permanently blind in his left eye was yesterday jailed for three years.
Justin Cullinan (19) claimed that he threw a pint glass at Alex Carroll, who was out with friends celebrating his 16th birthday at the time, because he thought he was under threat. He denied he had actually punched the victim with it.
The two teenagers were amongst a large group of youths who were out celebrating their mid-term break in a Dublin city centre nightclub.
Cullinan, of Knocklyon Mews, Templeogue, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the teenager on February 8, 2008. He has no previous convictions and has not come to garda attention since.
Judge Katherine Delahunt said Cullinan's response to the perceived threat was "disproportionate". She said the case was a tragedy for both families but a custodial sentence was appropriate. Cullinan and his family wept as he was led away by prison officers.
Detective Garda Brian Sheerin told the court that the assault was so serious that an incident room was set up at the garda station and over 300 statements were taken during the course of the investigation.
He said the victim went upstairs in the nightclub and noted that a school friend was surrounded by a group of four boys from another school. There was raised voices and general slagging so he turned around to see if there was a space that he could move back to, to avoid the situation.
Det Gda Sheerin said it was at this stage that the glass was smashed in his face. The teenager later told gardai that the man who hit him had been one of the four that had been surrounding his friend moments earlier.
The boy described himself as being punched with the glass and said that it broke around the bridge of his nose. He could not open his eyes after the impact but initially thought this was due to grit or dirt. The victim was taken to the Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital where he underwent surgery.
Det Gda Sheerin said that Cullinan was later arrested and accepted that he had struck the teenager but claimed that he had thrown the glass rather than physically smashed it in his face. He said he thought "something was going to happen" and felt that he had behaved in an appropriate manner to defend himself.
Det Gda Sheerin agreed with Mr Luan O Braonain SC, defending, that there had been an "atmosphere of tension" that night due to a school rugby match and that this assault had not been the only "incident" at the nightclub.
Mr O Braonain said his client wished to offer his sincere apologies to the victim and his family.