Monday 19 March 2018

Man who beat neighbour unconscious to avoid jail if he pays victim €3,000

Conor Gallagher

A man who viciously attacked his next-door neighbour in her garden while her elderly deaf father was inside has escaped jail on condition he pay his victim €3,000.

During the unprovoked and unexplained assault, Thomas Finn (20) repeatedly punched the woman until she lost consciousness and then started kicking her as she lay on the ground. When the father of one was arrested, he told gardai he was going to burn the woman’s house.

Finn of Berryfield Road, Finglas, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to his neighbour Anthea Guerin on May 31, 2011, and to threatening to burn down her house on June 8, 2011.

On hearing the evidence two weeks ago, Judge Martin Nolan remanded Finn in custody for two weeks while he considered his sentence. The judge said the only things saving him from a very long sentence were his clean criminal record and belated expression of remorse.

Today, defence counsel John Fitzgerald BL told Judge Nolan that Finn has spent a week in Cloverhill Prison and a week in St Patrick’s Institution and the experience had been a shocking one for him.

Judge Nolan said Finn had behaved deplorably on the night in question but he was satisfied that it would not be repeated. He imposed a two and a half year sentence but suspended it in full on conditions which included paying over within one year €3,000 to his victim.

Judge Nolan said this money was not compensation but a “token of remorse.”

Garda Aidan O’Reilly told prosecuting counsel Roisin Lacey BL that Ms Guerin was with her father in their home when she heard shouting outside. She looked out to see Finn arguing with his parents. Finn told her to go back inside and she returned to her father.

A short time later she heard a tapping coming from outside and went out to see Finn and another man in her back garden. Finn shouted at her: “Who do you think you are poking your nose into my business?”

When she told him to get out of her garden he attacked her and started punching her in the face. She fell to the ground and he kicked her in the body and face until she blacked out.

When she came to 20 seconds later she heard the other man say that they’d done enough and that they should go. Finn responded “no she’s grand” before running back towards her and kicking her again.

The men fled and the woman was taken to hospital by ambulance. She had severe bruising and one eye was completely swollen over. She has since made a full physical recovery and was not in court as she has just given birth.

Finn was arrested at his home a week later. He denied the assault and repeatedly told the gardai that he was going to burn down Ms Guerin’s house.

Mr Fitzgerald said that his client was a heavy user of the banned headshop drug Snow Blow at the time and was arguing about this with his parents when Ms Guerin saw them outside her window.

He said Finn is unemployed and cares for his child while his girlfriend works. He added that he has written a letter of apology to his victim.

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