Saturday 16 December 2017

Man jailed for hammer attack on car clamper

Sonya McLean

A MAN who left a clamper with severe neurological damage after he struck his head with a lump hammer was yesterday sentenced to 10 years with the final three suspended.

Gheorghe Pista was clamping Gerard Sweeney's girlfriend's car when Sweeney approached him shouting and swearing that he was not going to pay the fine.

He then went to the boot of the car, took out a lump hammer, came back to the front of the vehicle where Mr Pista and his colleague were, and struck him on the left side of his head knocking the man to the ground.

Mr Pista sustained a fractured skull and later had to have a metal plate inserted. He was in a coma for seven weeks and a medical report before the court stated he is now profoundly disabled.

He can only verbalise a few words and needs assistance to walk. He requires 24-hour care which is provided by his sister and her partner.

Mr Pista's elderly parents and 10-year-old daughter live in his native country of Romania and he has seen very little of them since the attack.

Mr Pista's cousin, Dana, read a victim impact statement on behalf of the family, which had been prepared by his sister.

She said that her cousin has gone from "being a strong man to being a fragile child".

"He can't eat alone, shower alone, dress alone, he can barely walk. Today he is not even able to hug his little girl," Ms Pista said.

Sweeney (25), with addresses at St Mark's Avenue and High Grove, Mount Talbot, both in Clondalkin, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Mr Pista (38) in Werburgh Street, Dublin 8, on October 14, 2009. He has 30 previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan said the facts of the case were "simple and tragic" and referred to the use of "such a savage weapon".

"It is an incredibly heavy hammer used in the building industry for crushing stones and splitting bricks. Apply that to any part of the body and it seems inevitable serious injuries would be expected," he said.

Mr Pista's former employer, Nationwide Controlled Parking Systems (NCPS) welcomed the sentence last night, saying justice had been done.

In a statement, NCPS, who continue to support Mr Pista and his family, said: "It is our hope that the sentence will act as a deterrent to anyone else thinking of attacking any other service industry employee going about their work."

Mr Pista is now an Irish citizen and had been working as a clamper for a number of years. On the night in question he was working with a colleague and noticed that five vehicles were parked illegally in a car park on Werburgh Street.

Sgt Paul Costelloe said Mr Pista has no recollection of the attack but his colleague told gardai that they were taking details and photos of the vehicles in question when Sweeney approached them.

After the attack, Sweeney ran away but his girlfriend remained at the scene.

She later told gardai: "Ger is a hot head but I never saw him react like that".

Defence counsel Remy Farrell said his client had €19,000 in court as a token of his remorse but the court was later informed that the Pista family did not want to accept the money.

Irish Independent

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