Sunday 17 February 2019

Woman described as 'incredible hulk' launched unprovoked attack on woman at hospital

James Connolly Memorial Hospital
James Connolly Memorial Hospital

Sonya McLean

A woman who was described by her victim as “the incredible hulk in strength and rage” when she launched an unprovoked attack on her has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Alice Byrne (44) kicked and punched Sandra Comer in the stomach and chest as the victim was standing outside James Connolly Hospital having a cigarette with an acquaintance.

Byrne of Horizon Buildings, Royal Canal Park Ashton Dublin 15, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at James Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown on August 13, 2017.

She further pleaded guilty to trespass and criminal damage at Clonshaugh Road, Coolock on October 1, 2015 and was sentenced to nine months in prison for that offence. This sentence was backdated to last December.

Judge Pauline Codd sentenced Byrne to four years for the assault case with the final 12 months suspended.

Garda Gavin Coleman told the court that in August 2017, Ms Comer noticed Byrne shouting at a man calling him a heroin addict. She said she didn't even look up at the time because she didn't want to draw attention to herself and her friend as she knew “the woman was trouble”.

Byrne came over and talked to the women briefly before she walked off again. Some time later they saw Byrne “battering” the man she had been earlier calling a heroin addict before she returned to Ms Comer and her friend.

Gda Coleman said Byrne started shouting at the two women “what did you say to my fella?” They replied they had said nothing and Byrne started shouting. She initially walked away before Ms Comer said Byrne “was going for me full tilt” while the man was holding her back.

She said Byrne got free and “launched at me, kicked and punched me in the stomach”.

Ms Comer told gardaí she was in the “foetal position” and Byrne was “like the incredible hulk in strength and rage”. The man eventually got Byrne off her just as Ms Comer started to black out.

Ms Comer said she couldn't see and she thought she was going to die. She managed to get inside and security was called. She was pumping blood and kept blacking out. She was hyperventilating and screaming.

Gda Coleman said Ms Comer's friend told gardaí that the victim was kicked in the face and there was blood everywhere. Her witness statement said “I couldn't make out her face with all the blood”.

Byrne was nominated as a suspect but nothing of significance came out of the follow up interviews with gardaí.

A victim impact statement said that Ms Comer needed a number of stitches and now has nerve damage to the side of her face. She said her life has changed since, she suffers both panic attacks and is depressed.

Her breast implants were affected by kicks she got to the chest during the assault. She has no feeling in her nose and upper lip and has had to have two operations. She said she has a permanently disfigured face.

The court heard during the burglary case, previously heard in October this year, Byrne, facilitated and directed her son, Josh (23) and two other men to smash the windows and contents of his girlfriend's family home.

There had been an argument earlier between Byrne and the mother of Josh's girlfriend, Rebecca Halligan.

Later that day Ms Halligan's sister opened the door of her home to Alice Byrne, who facilitated her son and two young men wearing balaclavas entering the house.

Josh Byrne and the two other men proceeded to smash various household items, windows and the front door with baseball bats. According to the victims, this was all under the direction of Byrne's mother.

Josh Byrne with an address at Spencer Street, North Strand, Dublin, received a two year fully suspended sentence on condition that he engage with the Probation Service. He pleaded guilty to burglary and criminal damage at the Halligan household in Coolock, Dublin, on October 1, 2015.

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