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Homeless man who stabbed stranger in 'random disagreement' jailed for four years

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A homeless man who stabbed a stranger in a “random disagreement” on the street has been jailed for four years.

Mark Byrne (35) of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm and production of a knife at Winetavern Street, Dublin 8 on July 16, 2016.

Defence counsel, Mark Mulholland QC, previously told the court the offence was committed in the context of a random disagreement between two strangers who were both living on the streets.

He said there had been no preceding history or animosity between the two. He said his client had been informed earlier that summer he was under threat and carried a knife at times for self-defence purposes.

Counsel said this was the only time the knife was used and submitted it was a disproportionate use of force.

Judge Melanie Greally said there appeared to have been some degree of aggression between the injured party and Byrne which immediately led to an assault involving a stabbing in the lower abdomen with extremely serious consequences for the victim.

Judge Greally noted the victim was “lucky to escape with his life.”

She took into account that Byrne has regained his equilibrium and has remained drug-free in the recent past. She said he was someone with a lot of “unrealised potential” and she would structure a sentence in a way that allows him to make good on his expressions of intent.

Judge Greally imposed a five year sentence and suspended the final year on conditions including that he avail of drug treatment services and mental health services as directed.

Garda Kevin Cassidy told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that the victim suffered a bowel perforation and was hospitalised for a number of weeks.

The court heard the man thought he was going to die and still gets bad dreams. He has ongoing issues with his bowels.

Mr Mulholland said it had been an “abhorrent act” on his client's part. In a letter to the court Byrne said his actions were “disgraceful and appalling”. He wrote that he had never wanted this to happen and was sorry.

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