DUNDALK teenager Niall Dorr was a 'class act', a young man who represented his country at kick-boxing and was the light of his parent's lives, according to his dad, David, who read out a heartbreaking victim impact statement at Monday's sentencing hearing.
David said the ultimate result of Niall's horrific injuries was that he 'died a lonely death on the streets of a town he loved so much'.
And he recalled the happiness they felt when Niall was born.
He said: ' When the nurse handed him to me, this 6lb 9oz bundle of joy actually had me in tears. I didn't cry again for 18 years and 48 weeks, which is exactly how long we had him for'.
He said Niall had represented Ireland for several years at World Championship Kick Boxing, winning a bronze medal in 2004 and a silver medal in 2009.
David said that even in his death Niall showed his consideration for others as he saved the lives of five people by donating his organs after he had only signed a donor card three months before he died.
He said: ' One of the toughest things myself and Shane ( Niall's brother) will ever had have to do was to carry his coffin out of the house and for his Mam ( Veronica) to walk behind us was equally tough on her.
David outlined the ongoing devastation caused by Niall's killing. He said: ' From now on we have must be ready to accept that news of other tragic deaths will bring us back to what happened to Niall.
' We could have accepted this better if he had died through an illness or an accident but not this way.
' This was cruel and heartless and I just hope when the accused ( Dougie Ward) looks at his children he will think of the young man he killed.
' Niall's mother, Veronica, cannot bear to go near the street where it happened ( Castle Road) because it would tear her apart'.
Violence in society was also highlighted by David. He said: 'At the moment, in this country, the price of a human life is sinking to new lows everyday. The morning of the altercation Niall had attended an interview for the Irish Army.
' If what happened to Niall serves to wake people up to the tragedies they bestow on others, it would in some small way help us. But this is a flawed hope because our society is moving on to repeat again and again the very acts of poison that occurred that night. Death, murder and destruction are causing havoc on our streets with no sign of a cure.
David painted a picture of daily life without their beloved son. He said: ' Instead of celebrating Niall's 21st several weeks ago with a party, all we could do was visit his grave and lay flowers.
' We draw the curtains at night in Niall's room and open them in the morning.
' His picture sits on his desk and we say goodnight and good morning to him every day. Niall's short life touched many and he left the world a better place for having been here. Simply put he was a class act.
' We would love to think that when we ask him how we did, when we meet again, he will say: ' Ye did me proud'. We now intend to do just that'.