Thursday 19 September 2019

Take That gig assault victim asks judge not to jail her attacker

Gemma Finnegan
Gemma Finnegan
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A concert-goer who took part in a frenzied attack on another woman at a Take That gig has avoided prison after a court heard the victim did not want her locked up.

Gemma Finnegan (30) was instead given a six-month suspended sentence for the violent assault that left the victim (36) with clumps of hair pulled from her scalp and bruising to her kidneys.

Judge Bryan Smyth said there was "far too much of this happening" at concerts.

Finnegan is the last of three people to be sentenced over the assault. Her then-fiance Ciaran Byrne (33) was jailed for six months, while his sister Sharon Byrne (34) had her six-month sentence suspended.

Annoyance

Finnegan, of Ballybay Road, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, pleaded guilty to violent disorder and assault.

Dublin District Court heard the victim and her husband were at the Take That concert in Dublin's 3 Arena on May 16, 2017.

Gda Adrian Cahill said Finnegan's group were highly intoxicated and "overly boisterous" throughout the concert, "to the annoyance of them and many other people near them".

One spilled a drink on the victim, there was a row and this "spiralled" into an unprovoked physical assault.

The victim was kicked and punched on the head and body and had large clumps of hair pulled out.

Her husband found it hard to get to her to help her during the attack.

In a victim impact statement heard previously, the woman said she suffered extensive hair loss and scalp trauma, which resulted in her having to cut her hair short.

She had a CT scan for suspected internal injuries, suffered a bruised kidney and blood in her urine. She had fingernail scratches to her neck.

She spoke of the "indignity of being dragged and kicked around the 3 Arena in front of my husband and friends, not knowing when it would end".

The woman had been celebrating her birthday and a new job on the day of the attack.

It was the State's case that all three accused acted together, and Gda Cahill said he could not substantiate an assertion by the defence that Finnegan was a "peacemaker".

"The injured party stated that she wouldn't like to see anyone go to prison," the garda said, particularly Finnegan, who had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

The victim was "genuinely shocked" that one of the accused had been jailed.

Defence barrister Donal Pattison said Finnegan had €1,200 compensation and a "genuine" letter of apology in court.

She had no previous convictions, was a hard worker and expressed remorse.

"There is far too much of this happening when people go along to a concert," Judge Smyth said.

"A lot of people end up taking far too much drink and there seem to be assaults and other things that arise."

He suspended the sentence in full for a year on Finnegan entering a peace bond.

Herald

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