Sunday 15 September 2019

Man who stabbed Dublin GAA star Jonny Cooper in random assault sentenced to seven years

Jonny Cooper, Dublin, with the Sam Maguire Cup
Jonny Cooper, Dublin, with the Sam Maguire Cup
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

A man who stabbed Dublin GAA star Jonny Cooper nine times in the face and neck in a random assault has been sentenced to seven years in prison with two suspended.

Mark Lavelle (32) had taken crystal meth before the attack and had also assaulted a taxi driver and stole his cab.

All Ireland winning footballer Jonny Cooper had been out with his Na Fianna teammates when he was randomly attacked on Dorset Street in Dublin city centre.

A passing driver spotted the footballer stumbling up the street, with his back soaked in blood, and rang gardai.

Officers later followed a trail of blood from where they met Mr Cooper to a nearby chipper and secured CCTV footage from the restaurant.

He received nine stab wounds to his forehead, eyelid and neck area. He spent one night in hospital and had no recollection of the assault.

Mr Cooper wasn’t in court but in a victim impact statement read on Wednesday he said he was constantly looking over his shoulders following the attack, was apprehensive going to work and his family had been stressed.

Passing sentence this afternoon, Judge Martin Nolan said Mr Cooper was “viciously attacked with a knife” and was quite fortunate he did not sustain more serious injuries.

Judge Nolan said that thankfully Mr Cooper had fully recovered and had “gone on to fame in his chosen sport”, adding that Mr Cooper had brought great enjoyment to many people, particularly Dublin people.

In relation to Lavelle, the judge said he had "a poor start in life". The judge said Lavelle, who has bi-polar disorder, could be termed “a danger to society”, as he seems unable to stop involving himself in crime.

Judge Nolan imposed two consecutive sentences of three and a half years, making a total of seven years. In light of his guilty plea, the judge said he would suspend two years of the seven year sentence.

Lavelle, who is originally from Swinford, Co Mayo but with an address at Basin Street, Dublin 8, had pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Mr Cooper at Dorset Street Upper on September 20, 2014.

He also admitted to seriously assaulting Thomas Smith at Kennelsfort Road Upper in Palmerstown at around 2am on the Saturday morning and to hijacking Mr Smith's car.

Lawyers for Lavelle said he suffered from a mental disorder and had been with the State's psychiatric services since his mid-teens.

He has 62 previous convictions and a long history of substance abuse.

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