Sunday 25 February 2018

Young man jailed for three years for hitting man - who later died - with golf club

Paul Brannigan (24)
Paul Brannigan (24)

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A young Dublin man has been jailed for three years for swinging a golf club into the chest of another male outside his home in the early hours after St Patrick's Day.

Paul Brannigan (24) was convicted by a jury earlier this month of assaulting Jason Saunders by head-butting him and striking him with a golf club. The victim died shortly after the attack and Brannigan was also charged with his manslaughter.

The jury found Brannigan guilty of a further charge of producing an article capable of inflicting serious injury in a fight. After a six day trial and almost five hours deliberation the jury failed to reach a verdict on the more serious charge of manslaughter.

Brannigan of Ratoath Drive, Finglas had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the two assault charges, the production of an article and the manslaughter of Mr Saunders at Fassaugh Avenue, Cabra West on March 18, 2014. He has nine previous convictions for road traffic matters.

Detective Sergeant Thomas Lynch told the court that CCTV footage showed Brannigan head-butting Mr Saunders. Later images showed Brannigan with a golf club in his right hand, while his left arm was in a sling.

During the trial a shop keeper described seeing Brannigan swing a golf club violently at Mr Saunders. Dt Sgt Lynch told Colm O'Briain SC, prosecuting, that post mortem evidence revealed that Mr Saunders had a fracture in his left rib.

Judge Patrick McCartan told the court that he was dealing solely with the charges to which the jury had returned convictions. He added that it would be “remiss” of him not to extend his “deepest sympathy to Mr Saunders' family for their untimely loss”.

He imposed a three year sentence for the golf club assault to run concurrently to two years for the head-butt. He noted that Brannigan had said he was sober on the night and that it was “not apparent to the court why this event occurred at all”.

Judge McCartan said the assaults were on the “upper echelons” of the scale and “done with determination and with force in circumstances where there was no reason”.

He backdated the sentence to when Brannigan entered custody at the end of the trial.

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