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Twins who glassed bystander after attending confirmation spared jail

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Guilty plea: Twins Edel (left) and Bernadette Dowd both received 240 hours' community service in lieu of an 18-month custodial sentence. Photo: North West Newspix

Guilty plea: Twins Edel (left) and Bernadette Dowd both received 240 hours' community service in lieu of an 18-month custodial sentence. Photo: North West Newspix

Guilty plea: Twins Edel (left) and Bernadette Dowd both received 240 hours' community service in lieu of an 18-month custodial sentence. Photo: North West Newspix

Two twins glassed a man in a bar during an unprovoked attack after they had been drinking all day after attending a confirmation.

Bernadette and Edel Dowd (25) appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court in Co Donegal, having pleaded guilty to the attack.

Both women, with an address at Donegal Road, Ballybofey, had been drinking in the town after a confirmation celebration on May 6, 2017.

Shortly after midnight on May 7, a row broke out at Cheers Bar on Main Street.

Innocent bystander Christopher Gallagher, who was out with his parents, was sitting opposite the sisters.

He was initially struck on the forehead with a glass thrown by Edel Dowd, causing him to bleed.

As he reached up to feel the blood coming down his face he was struck on the cheek by another glass, thrown by Bernadette Dowd.

He was taken to Letterkenny University Hospital, where he received stitches to both wounds and was told that he would be left with a permanent scar on his cheek.

When interviewed by gardaí, both women admitted throwing the glasses which struck Mr Gallagher.

The court was told both women were from Tallaght in Dublin and had moved to Ballybofey 10 years ago.

Both had fallen in with bad company in recent years and had been drinking too much.

However, the sisters said they were trying to turn their lives around since the incident, had not drunk alcohol in almost a year, were eating healthily and were going to the gym.

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Fiona Crawford, barrister for Edel Dowd, said her client was easily led but was a very decent person when she did not have drink taken. Edel Dowd told the court: "I'm genuinely sorry to Mr Gallagher and all his family, I really didn't mean it.

"It was the drink and that's the main reason I'm off drink today.

"I shouldn't have acted like that - it was shocking behaviour, it really was.

"I'm still ashamed and really am embarrassed by the way I behaved and I always will be."

Peter Nolan, barrister for Bernadette Dowd, said his client and her sister had learnt a lesson and understood that this type of behaviour would not be tolerated.

Bernadette Dowd told the court: "I'm sorry to Mr Gallagher and everyone in the pub. We had an early day drinking and celebrating a confirmation and it got out of hand. We're keeping our heads down, going to the gym and we have turned ourselves around."

Judge John Aylmer said that while both women had previous minor convictions, this incident was uncharacteristic of them.

He said he put it in the mid-range of such offences, which could result in a sentence of two years in prison, before considering mitigating circumstances.

However, he said he would reduce this to 18 months considering their early guilty plea and genuine remorse.

He wanted to encourage their rehabilitation and suggested custodial sentences may be counter-productive in their cases.

Instead, he imposed 240 hours' community service in lieu of 18 months in jail.


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