Tuesday 24 January 2017

A moment of madness that ruined everything

It's hard not to read the story of Matthew Sheridan being set on fire without thinking, 'there but for the grace of God go I'

Published 12/07/2015 | 02:30

Matthew Sheridan
Matthew Sheridan
Brian Keane apparently did not make eye contact with Matthew when he was being addressed by him. Photo:Andrew Downes : XPOSURE

A moment of madness. That is the phrase that people keep using about the appalling case of Matthew Sheridan. Matthew was the victim of someone else's moment of madness. And it was a moment of madness and stupidity that no one will ever be able to take back, one that stole from Matthew his health, his peace of mind, his job, his hobbies, his fitness. "You stole them all from me," Matthew said to his assailant Brian Keane in court last week, as he delivered a victim impact statement that moved the whole country.

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The moment of madness was three years ago. Matthew Sheridan was a second year medical student. It was Halloween and Matthew had improvised a costume by sticking cotton wool to his trousers and top. Brian Keane, a law student in a Batman costume, came up behind Matthew in a nightclub and set him alight. For no good reason, the court heard. As if there could be a good reason. It was obviously just an incredibly stupid thing, a moment of madness. Some kind of dumb prank, if you can even call it a prank.

It could have just given Matthew Sheridan a fright. He could have just leapt and had to brush off a bit of singed cotton wool. It still would have been a dumb thing to do, but it needn't have changed everyone's life. But, in the event, Matthew Sheridan went up in flames, flames that were aided by the glue he had used to stick on the cotton wool. People used water and their jumpers to try and put the flames out.

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