Friday 24 November 2017

Matthew Sheridan: Excerpts from victim impact statement

'He snuck up behind me in a dark room and left me to burn to death'

Matthew Sheridan (left) who was burnt in the assault and (right) Brian Keane.
Matthew Sheridan (left) who was burnt in the assault and (right) Brian Keane.
Matthew Sheridan suffered horrific injuries when set alight in a club

Ann Healy

A medical student who was "burned to the bone" after his Halloween costume was set alight said he thought he was dying as he was engulfed by flames.

Matthew Sheridan (24) from Cabinteely in Dublin, was out with friends when he said Brian Keane "snuck up behind me in a dark room and then left me to burn to death".

He was at a fancy dress party at Halo night-club in Galway when his home-made sheep costume - made with highly flammable glue to stick cotton wool to a t-shirt and pants - was set in fire by Keane, who was dressed as Batman.

Yesterday, as Keane started his jail sentence, Mr Sheridan bravely spoke out about the horrors he has suffered since 12.19am on November 1, 2012.

Read more here: Man jailed over 'prank' that left victim with 75pc burns 

That was when he had "gone from being a happy, healthy and fit person who was looking forward to a life that he loved, to a person who was engulfed in flames and fighting for his life".

Mr Sheridan, who had to be placed in an induced coma and undergo surgery, showed his burned and disfigured hands to Judge Rory McCabe. Part of the little finger on his right hand had fused with his ring finger as he tried to pull the burning costume from his body and had to be partially amputated.

Mr Sheridan said he had dreamt of being a paediatric surgeon, but instead had been taunted by the knowledge that Keane - who went on to study complete a masters in law at Trinity College - was leading a healthy life while he suffered. "I was the victim of a faceless, nameless person I did not know," Mr Sheridan read to the hushed courtroom.

"I was missing 70pc of my skin and I underwent extensive emergency surgeries. Metal rods were put though my fingers. The pain and anguish of not being able to do ordinary things was unbearable.

"This attack was unprovoked and sinister and incredibly malevolent. I was tortured because he wanted me to be so. He changed my life forever.

"He literally burnt me to the bone," Mr Sheridan continued in his victim impact statement.

"My fingers burned off. Why could he not just have hit me or kicked me or broken a glass over my head or shot me or stabbed me - anything but fire.

"You snuck up behind me in a dark room and then left me to burn to death," Mr Sheridan said to his attacker.

Keane, who sat facing his victim, never made eye contact with Mr Sheridan. He looked straight ahead or at times, hung his head and grimaced as his victim outlined the physical and mental anguish and pain he suffers on a daily and nightly basis. "I thought I was dying," Mr Sheridan continued.

"I begged for the pain to end. The stench of burning flesh overpowered me. I thought I might be blinded. The paramedics wrapped me in cling film and I begged them for pain relief and to put me to sleep.

"I was out celebrating finishing my exams. I had plans, but you found me. Who are you to jeopardise my plans? But my plans to be a paediatric surgeon have been put in jeopardy by you," Mr Sheridan said to his attacker.

Mr Sheridan said Keane never apologised at the time but "turned and walked away that night". "You have been doing it ever since," he added.

"You took my health, my peace of mind, my job, my hobbies, my fitness. You stole them all from me.

"Who are you to inflict such misery just because I was an easy target. I have persistent nightmares. You have caused me more pain that you can imagine. It was not an accident. It was done deliberately to me. It was an opportunistic assault," Mr Sheridan said.

Mr Sheridan, a second-year NUIG student at the time, has returned to university.

Keane, who was studying corporate law at NUIG at the time, later completed his law degree in UCC and a masters in Trinity.

Irish Independent

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