A YOUNG man suffered life-threatening brain injuries when he struck his head on the pavement after being punched by a Leaving Cert student following a street row.
Killian O'Brien (19) was yesterday given a four-year suspended prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious harm to Conor Lynch (26).
Cork Circuit Criminal Court was told that O'Brien -- now a first-year student at University College Cork -- was appalled by the injuries sustained by Mr Lynch, a masters civil engineering student.
After being knocked unconscious when his head hit the ground, Mr Lynch had to undergo two emergency brain operations.
Judge Patrick Moran heard that but for the prompt surgical intervention, Mr Lynch would not have survived.
Judge Moran was told that O'Brien, of Ferney, Lover's Walk, Montenotte, Cork -- who was 18 at the time -- got involved in a verbal dispute with Mr Lynch after they met on Hanover Street on December 23, 2009.
O'Brien struck Mr Lynch a single punch -- and the victim struck his head on the pavement as he fell. His brain suffered a whiplash-type injury.
The incident was witnessed by an undercover garda -- and both he and O'Brien attempted to help Mr Lynch at the scene.
He was taken to the Mercy University Hospital before being transferred to Cork University Hospital for specialist neurological surgery.
Yesterday, O'Brien said he was appalled at what happened that night. "I feel awful for what I have done to him and for what he has been through," he said.
"I never intended to cause this to him. I feel awful. No parent should have to go through what I put them (the Lynch family) through," he added.
O'Brien is a volunteer for charity projects in South Africa and Ecuador and has no previous convictions.
Judge Moran imposed a four-year prison sentence, which he suspended on condition O'Brien keep the peace for four years.