Friday 27 April 2018

Boxer jailed for 'prolonged and vicious' attack on tyre fitter

Judge Martin Nolan
Judge Martin Nolan

By Jessica Magee

A talented boxer who won gold for Ireland at EU level has been sentenced to two years in prison for a “prolonged and vicious” attack on a tyre fitter.

A court heard that Thomas Finnegan (26) “thought he was in the ring” when he rained punches at Mr Mantis Viknius' face, after a row over a tyre.

Finnegan, of Bawnlea Drive, Tallaght, in Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at Cookstown Industrial Estate in Tallaght on May 15, 2013.

The victim was left with a fractured eye socket, a broken nose, nerve damage and diminished memory.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Martin Nolan said Mr Viknius was seriously injured during the “grossly reprehensible”  and “prolonged and vicious” assault.

Judge Nolan said that Finnegan was a “strong man, who had skills, but applied them in a very destructive way”.

The judge acknowledged several “impressive letters” form Finnegan's sporting mentors and said the boxer had acquired great recognition and had won many championships.

The court heard Finnegan had himself been stabbed during an earlier assault which forced him to quit his promising boxing career. The father of four brought €3,800 to court as a token of his remorse.

Sarah Jane O’Callaghan BL, defending, said that her client had disgracefully left his discipline during the attack and “thought he was in the ring”.

Finnegan has 23 previous convictions, including criminal damage, public order, drugs and road traffic offences.

Garda Paul McLoughlin told James Dwyer BL, prosecuting, that the incident took place at a garage after the victim replaced two bald tyres for a customer.

The customer paid for the tyres and left, but returned some time later as one of his tyres had shredded.

When the man returned, Finnegan was with him in the passenger seat.

Mr Viknius said it would cost €10 to replace the damaged tyre, but Finnegan disagreed and a row broke out.

The victim told gardaí that Finnegan started punching him in the face and he tried to defend himself but was knocked to the ground.

Mr Viknius got up but Finnegan kept delivering punches to his face so he went in the garage.

A medical report confirmed that Mr Viknius had a steel plate inserted permanently into his right eyebrow.

In a victim impact report handed into court, he said he had to take six weeks off work.

He said the first six months after the attack were the worst because of the bruising, his broken nose, fractured eye socket and the daily pain from nerve damage.

Mr Viknius still suffers numbness from his right eye down his cheekbone to the nerves in his front teeth.

He used to work six days a week but now only works four and a half days, and can no longer deal with multiple customers.

Mr Viknius said his memory has diminished and that the attack “messed up his life” emotionally and physically.

Ms O'Callaghan said Finnegan felt it was unfair that they were being charged extra money for a tyre that had been repaired, but that he was extremely sorry and had written a letter of apology.

The court heard that Finnegan won a gold medal at a European competition held in Poland and had the potential for a successful career, until he was stabbed and had to give up on high level sport.

He won money after a claim and developed gambling and drug addictions; he also suffers from depression.

Ms O'Callaghan said Finnegan has been attending anger management counselling and has a business plan to set up a car dealership.

Letters were handed to court from his partner and from boxing colleagues describing Finnegan as a good role model and an “excellent, well-mannered and disciplined boxer”.

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