A retired painter has received a suspended prison sentence for punching an acquaintance, leaving him with serious brain damage following a row over €5.
Colm MacDonald (57) was seen throwing “haymaker” punches at Christopher Coakley. It was the prosecution case that the Mr Coakley suffered the injuries when he was punched and hit his head off the concrete footpath.
The court heard that a neurologist could not say for certain that all of Mr Coakley’s problems came from the impact as he also had a serious alcohol problem which may have contributed to his cognitive issues.
Mr Coakley had to spend six months in hospital and a further ten months in a rehabilitation centre before being sent home. He continues to suffer serious effects from the attack and has had to start learning how to read and write again.
He requires ongoing care and supervision and his short term memory has been badly affected.
MacDonald, a retired painter and decorator from Killarney Court, Killarney Street, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm on Foley Street on August 9, 2013.
Judge Martin Nolan said he had no doubt that MacDonald never intended to seriously injure Mr Coakley but that he was extremely reckless.
He said both men were intemperate on this occasion and a small issue escalated into a situation that was out of character.
Suspending a three year prison sentence, he said that MacDonald was a good man with a good work history. He said he was taking his age into consideration.
He also noted that Mr Coakley’s underlying condition was a contributing factor to his injuries and he said only for this medical evidence the State may have brought a more serious charge.
Garda Seamus Dalton told Derek Cooney BL that on the day before the assault both men were drinking in Mullet’s Pub on Amiens Street when Mr Coakley said he was going to the shop. MacDonald gave him €5 to get him something but Mr Coakley never returned.
The next day MacDonald saw him in the pub and demanded his money back. There was a row and Mr Coakley threw a pint over the accused.
Mr Coakley left the pub and MacDonald followed him onto Foley Street where the attack occurred.
Defence counsel Dominic McGinn SC said MacDonald was very remorseful afterwards and had rang the hospital to ask about the victim’s condition.
He said MacDonald is not someone who is a menace to society or someone with a history of violence. Judge Nolan said he was disregarding MacDonald’s other minor convictions.
Counsel asked Judge Nolan if there is anything constructive to be gained by jailing MacDonald.