Monday 19 August 2019

'Jail sentence will act as a deterrent for kids trying to act the hard man' - mother of son killed by one punch

Life saver: Luke O'Reilly with his mother Janet O'Brien, who allowed his organs to be donated after his death
Life saver: Luke O'Reilly with his mother Janet O'Brien, who allowed his organs to be donated after his death
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

The mother of a young man who lost his life following a one-punch attack hopes the sentence her son's killer was handed down will act as a deterrent for others.

Yesterday, Jack Hall Ellis (21) was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Luke O'Reilly in Tallaght, Dublin, almost two years ago.

Hall Ellis, who was on bail at the time over an alleged violent disorder incident, struck the 20-year-old with a single punch which resulted in Mr O'Reilly hitting his head off the ground and suffering fatal injuries.

Judge Melanie Greally remarked that single-punch assaults leading to traumatic brain injuries are a reoccurrence on the court's case load.

Last night Luke's mother, Janet O'Brien, told the Irish Independent she was satisfied the judge recognised that such serious assaults were being carried out regularly.

Luke's mother described the five-year term given to Ellis as "a realistic sentence".

"Hopefully it will make people sit up and listen and they'll think twice," she said.

"It will act as a deterrent for kids going around trying to act the hard man, because as I said it doesn't make much difference to us now."

On Halloween night in 2017, Mr O'Reilly was socialising in the Metro One Bar in Tallaght when Ennis approached him and accused Luke of talking to his girlfriend.

Early the following morning Mr O'Reilly was walking along the Old Blessington Road when he was punched once from behind by Ellis, who had drunk up to 20 shots on the night of the attack.

The victim fell to the ground and hit his head off the concrete pavement. He suffered traumatic brain injuries and passed away 13 days later at Beaumont Hospital.

In a moving victim impact statement, his mother said her family would never be the same. "No family occasion will ever be 100pc joyous again," she said.

She described how her son's birth, just after midnight on August 2, 1997, filled her life with "unconditional love and unimaginable sense of pride" that she would get to rear and guide his life so he too could one day raise his own family.

This, however, was taken away by what she described as a "cowardly" attack by Ellis.

"I don't believe Jack intended the outcome of his actions for Luke to lose his life, but ultimately this was the result of his actions," she told the court.

Ms O'Brien recalled being told on the morning of November 13, 2017 that Luke was not going to recover and making the decision to donate her son's organs.

"I climbed into bed beside him, hugging on to his warm body, never wanting to let go and listening to his beating heart that was now only beating to save someone else's life," Ms O'Brien said.

Irish Independent

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