A woman whose "high-rise" kick with a stiletto heel left her victim blind in one eye has walked free from court.
Jennifer Ziemann (26) got a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for assault causing harm to Katie Kenneally (21) at the Queen's nightclub in Ennis, Co Clare, in the early hours of May 6, 2018.
Handing down sentence at Ennis Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Gerald Keys said Ziemann's kick "had the element of a defensive kick in this fracas".
He was of the view that Ziemann "did not intend to cause serious harm to Katie Kenneally on the night" and that CCTV footage of the incident does not establish that her conduct was reckless within the legal definition.
The footage previously shown in court showed the two women having an altercation in the outdoor area of the nightclub and both ended up on the ground. A bouncer grabbed Ziemann, of Parnell Street, Ennis, while others took hold of Ms Kenneally and the two were separated.
However, when Ms Kenneally made a lunge for Ziemann, Ziemann kicked out with her stiletto resulting in the "catastrophic" injury to Ms Kenneally's left eye.
The altercation, described by Judge Keys as "relatively minor", lasted only a number of seconds.
The life-changing injury sustained by Ms Kenneally came just weeks before she lost her younger brother, Jack (15), in a tragic double drowning in a disused quarry near Ennis.
The Junior Cert pupil and his Ennis Rugby Club Under-15 teammate Shay Moloney (15) lost their lives in the tragedy at Gaurus on May 31, 2018.
In an interview with gardaí, Ziemann described her kick as she and Ms Kenneally were being separated as "a high-rise kick". She told gardaí: "I'm not one to back down."
Judge Keys told the two women "neither of you showed any restraint and attempted to re-engage" in the row.
Ziemann paid more than €3,000 compensation in court to her victim.
Judge Keys said the aggravating factors in the case were Ziemann confronting her victim in an aggressive manner, excessive alcohol, Ziemann's 13 previous convictions, inflicting a serious injury and the adverse effects on the career and lifestyle of Ms Kenneally.
He said the mitigating factors were Ziemann's guilty plea, that she fully co-operated with gardaí, had shown remorse and apologised for her actions and that she feels fully responsible for the injuries sustained, and that the consequences of what happened were not intended.
"The number of assault cases involving alcohol is on the increase," Judge Keys said.
"If one had foresight to see what would happen in this case, I have no doubt this fracas would never have occurred in the first instance.
"If anything is to be learned for the future, kicking, punching, hitting someone with a glass, with any object, can have disastrous consequences even though they are not intended.
"I have great sympathy for the victim, Ms Kenneally, and I sincerely hope that you can adapt as best you can to the loss of your eye," the judge told her.
Addressing both women, he said: "This is a very, very expensive lesson for both of you."
In her victim-impact statement, Ms Kenneally said: "I struggle to look at myself in the mirror as it's a constant reminder of what happened that night and I will never be able to forget it."