Saturday 20 January 2018

Veteran 'living a nightmare' after sword attack

Martin Butler: slashed across the skull in street assault
Martin Butler: slashed across the skull in street assault
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A DECORATED UN peacekeeping veteran cannot speak and is incapable of independent living after being slashed across the skull with a samurai sword after a pub row.

Martin Butler (50) is now entirely dependent on his family and friends because of brain injuries sustained when he was attacked by Liam McCarthy (27) outside a Tipperary pub following a minor row between two of their friends.

McCarthy received a suspended six-month prison term for a separate and unrelated assault just three months before he struck Mr Butler with a samurai sword, inflicting catastrophic brain injuries.

Mr Butler, a decorated UN peacekeeping veteran who turned 50 last month, was attacked following a street row in Cappawhite, Co Tipperary, last year. The row erupted following a minor pub argument where two friends of both men refused to shake hands.

McCarthy of Church Street, Cappawhite, Co Tipperary, previously pleaded guilty before Clonmel Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing serious harm to Mr Butler on March 30, 2012.

He also pleaded guilty to production of a weapon in a dispute and violent disorder.

However, sentencing was adjourned yesterday after Judge Tom Teehan was told that the matter needed to be dealt with by his colleague, Judge Pauline Codd.

The matter was adjourned for mention to June 11 because of the Butler family's preference to have the matter dealt with in Tipperary and Judge Codd's judiciary commitments in Dublin and Kerry.

McCarthy had consumed six cans of cider, two pints of lager and two vodkas before the assault. He used an ornamental samurai sword in the attack which he had ripped off the wall of a neighbour's home.

McCarthy later told gardai he deeply regretted the assault and the injuries inflicted.

The single blow fractured Mr Butler's skull and inflicted a deep penetrating brain injury.

Mr Butler spent over a week on a life support machine before being stabilised in Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Despite making major progress in both CUH and the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire, he can no longer speak normally or live independently. His daughter, Colleen, said her father was "now living a nightmare".

'HEARTBREAKING'

"He has been reduced to a vocabulary of four letter words . . . his right arm is essentially a dead limb. He now has to try to learn to write again with his left hand. Broken bones and limbs can heal but psychological damage is much more difficult," she said.

Mr Butler's brother-in-law, Michael Ryan, said a proud, independent man who raised money for charitable causes was now entirely dependent on others. "It is heartbreaking that someone who had given so much to others should suffer such a fate," he said.

The court heard he has also changed from an outgoing, energetic man renowned for his distinctive laugh and love of life to someone who rarely leaves his home and gets frustrated with his disabilities.

Irish Independent

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