Sunday 18 February 2018

Youth left childhood friend in 26 day coma after unprovoked attack, court told

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A Dublin youth who left a childhood friend in a 26 day coma after an unprovoked attack with a broken glass bottle has received an eight and a half year sentence.

Eyewitnesses saw Daniel Clarke (20) straddle Mark Cooke as he smashed a glass bottle off the ground and drove it into the victim's face.

Mr Cooke, who can't recall the attack, managed to escape his assailant briefly before being chased down and attacked again. A witness said he saw Clarke's fists covered in blood as he “danced” on the victim's head and spat on him.

Other witnesses heard Clarke say: “Mark don't die, or I'll be up for murder”, as he was being arrested.

Clarke, of Dolphin House, Dolphin's Barn, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Mr Cooke (24) causing him serious harm at St James Walk, Rialto on July 9, 2013. He also pleaded guilty to producing a glass bottle in the course of an assault on the same date.

He has 18 previous convictions, including two for assault.

Mr Cooke's father stood in the body of the court and appealed to Judge Mary Ellen Ring to be lenient on Clarke.

“At the end of the day there's two lives going to be lost here. My young fella and this young fella. Be as lenient you can be, Your Honour,” James Cooke said.

Detective Garda Declan Boland agreed with Sean Gillane SC, defending, that witnesses had also said his client “didn't look with it at all”.

The detective told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that Mr Cooke had been walking home to Crumlin after visiting his sister when he met Clarke. The victim can only recall Clarke giving him a “dig” to the head and then waking up in hospital 26 days later.

He said he couldn't explain the broad daylight attack, as he had had no problems with Clarke.

Det Gda Boland told Mr Hayes that Mr Cooke was admitted to St James's Hospital with a severe head injury, cuts to his eyelids and a 10cm slash wound on his cheek.

He is now on a waiting list for inpatient treatment at the National Rehabilitation Hospital as he suffers weakness on his left side, long term memory impairment and depression.

Mr Gillane said Clarke's family had tried to submit him to St James's Hospital weeks before the attack because of his downward spiralling behaviour from drug and alcohol abuse.

Counsel added the Clarke “is disgusted at what he's done”.

He asked the judge to have regard to his client's young age and early guilty plea.

Judge Ring acknowledged that Clarke has been doing well in jail awaiting sentence but said the “bottom line” was that Mr Cooke has been “changed irrevocably”.

The judge backdated Clarke's sentence to when he entered custody on the date of the offence and suspended the final 18 months.

She ordered him to undergo all directions of the Probation Service regarding drug and alcohol treatment.

A man who had been on the green with his young family told gardai he saw Clarke start the fight and glass Mr Cooke in the face.

Clarke then assaulted a cyclist who intervened in the attack and covered him in the victim's blood from contact. When arrested he had to be restrained by gardai and was still shouting and spitting at the unconscious victim.

Mr Hayes handed in a Victim Impact Report prepared by Mr Cooke's mother for Judge Ring to read in private. The judge also viewed CCTV footage of the attack, which she described as “horrific”, on a laptop.

Mr Cooke Snr asked the judge to “Give (Clarke) a chance, but make sure he abides by the rules. If he's getting out make him do a course or something,”

Judge Ring commended Mr Cooke's father for “generously” asking for leniency.

She commented that such cases are “particularly difficult when both the victim of assault and the perpetrator of assault are young”.

Irish Independent

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