Wednesday 22 January 2020

Victim of 'glassing' asks that attacker be spared prison

Remorse: Damien Mitchell outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Collins
Remorse: Damien Mitchell outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Collins

Sonya McLean

A father of four who was spotted by gardaí 'glassing' a man in the face has avoided a jail term.

Damien Mitchell (32) narrowly missed John Walsh's eye when he hit him in the face with a pint glass after the victim tried to intervene in an argument Mitchell was having with his wife.

Mr Walsh suffered scarring as a result but told a court he didn't want to see his attacker sent to jail.

Mitchell was immediately arrested following the incident. He later acknowledged in an interview that he had been in a fight but said he had no other memory of what had happened due to the amount of alcohol he had to drink.

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He took full responsibility for his actions after the garda recounted what he had witnessed from his unmarked patrol car.

Detective Garda Nathan McKenna agreed with Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, that Mr Walsh stated in his victim impact statement that he was picking glass out of his face for days after the attack.

He said he didn't want to see Mitchell serve a custodial sentence and suggested instead that the man do a course to help with his excessive drinking.

He said he may have thought differently about the case if he had lost his eye in the attack.

Mitchell, of St Joseph's Park, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at Parkgate Street, Dublin, on June 25, 2017. He had no previous convictions.

Judge Melanie Greally imposed a three-year sentence which she suspended in full on various conditions including that Mitchell remain sober over the course of those three years.

She said Mitchell had narrowly missed Mr Walsh's eye and the victim had been left with significant scarring around his eye socket and cheek bone.

The judge noted from Mr Walsh's victim impact statement that he did not wish Mitchell to go to jail and described the victim as being "extremely magnanimous".

"It is evident that alcohol played a significant role in the commission of the offence. He was in a highly charged and aggressive state when the unfortunate injured party intervened in a domestic dispute," Judge Greally said.

Counselling

She accepted that Mitchell has not had any alcohol since the assault and has attended counselling.

She noted a letter of apology he wrote to the victim and the fact that he had €3,000 in court as "a concrete expression of his remorse".

Judge Greally said that if the injuries had "even been slightly more serious", she would have had no option but to imprison Mitchell.

She said Mr Walsh had "escaped the potentially dire consequences" of Mitchell's actions.

Det Gda McKenna agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, that the €3,000 his client had for Mr Walsh would be a considerable sum of money for him.

Mr Le Vert said his client was the father of four young children who has been with his wife for 17 years. He is currently working as a tiler.

Counsel said his client had written a letter of apology to the victim and a probation report put him at a low risk of re-offending after concluding that he had learned "a salutatory lesson".

Irish Independent

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