Monday 16 September 2019

Trio beat man at his front door in 'horrific' offence

Circuit court hears of 4am attack in which victim is assaulted and dragged from his home by 'pack' of men

Three men have admitted their involvement in an early-morning attack during a which a man was beaten at the door of his house and then dragged outside where the assault continued.

The victim's partner was also prevented from going to his aid during an incident which occurred at 4.10am more than four years ago.

The injured party suffered a deep laceration to his forehead, a fractured nose, as well as swelling to the back of the head and tenderness over his lower back.

At Dundalk circuit criminal court last week, the three accused all appeared for sentencing having previously pleaded guilty to assault causing harm at Stoney Lane, Ardee, on 8 February, 2015.

Tadgh Smyth (29), Willow Close, Drogheda Road, Ardee; Dean Leavy (27), Rockfield Close, Ardee and Aaron Kerley (23), The Cottage, Mullenstown, Ardee were told by Judge Martina Baxter that this was an 'horrific' offence.

She adjourned sentencing to 8 October next, remanding the defendants on continuing bail.

The court heard the men were under the misapprehension the victim had assaulted someone earlier.

Garda Martin Carroll gave evidence that the victim and his partner had been on a night out for the first time since the birth of their second child four months earlier.

During the evening they had contact with a group, which included Aaron Kerley, at a local nightclub.

They arrived home at 3am and had gone to bend when there was banging to the front door of their house at 4.10am.

The lady was first downstairs and when her partner came down he opened the door and saw the three accused, whom he knew, outside.

Every one of them was roaring at him. Tadgh Smyth was in the middle of the trio and had his hands clenched. He struck the first blow.

The victim couldn't see much for all the blood. He had his hands to his face and fell to the ground 'in a puddle of blood'.

The three men then started hitting him. He was dragged and ended up lying on grass.

Gda Carroll said Smyth was sitting on the injured party's chest.

The victim's next recollection was sitting up and wiping blood from his face before the attack resumed.

Smyth struck the man on the face.

The woman told investigators that Leavy and Kerley assisted Smyth in moving her partner away from the house.

She saw Smyth get on his chest and punch him in the face, while the other two prevented her from going to help him.

The attack then relaxed somewhat and she succeeded in getting him away. The three men were standing there.

She ran to the house to ring gardaí and an ambulance.

Gda Carroll said as he responded to the call, he spotted Smyth some 500m from the scene.

On arrival, he saw the injured man had a busted nose and a large gash on his forehead.

In a victim impact report, he said he is left with a scar and has trouble breathing through his nose.

He is now anxious and unsociable, and is taking anti-depressants.

Judge Baxter heard Smyth has 24 previous convictions, all for road traffic offences, save for one count of criminal damage and for possession of an article.

Kerley and Leavy have no previous convictions. Those two play football together, while all three accused are into cars which is how they know the injured party, Gda Carroll continued.

The court was told Kerley had €2,500 compensation and Leavy a sum of €2,000.

Counsel for Smyth said his client had Autism Spectrum Disorder and was on disability allowance all his life.

A report from Professor Michael Fitzgerald was available.

He has no previous convictions for inflicting violence. There was no reason he should have had any involvement. He wasn't in the nightclub.

Judge Baxter said Smyth was a 'very serious instigator' and one of three 'thugs' who landed on this man's doorstep at 4am.

Kerley's counsel said he was aged 18 at the time.

He has the support of his family and had been working up until the last couple of months.

A letter from a 'local football club' was handed in on his behalf, and counsel added a probation report indicated he was at a low risk of re-offending.

He wished to apologise to the victim and his partner.

Counsel for Leavy admitted there was a troubling aspect to his client's probation report which states he denies assaulting the victim in the manner before the court.

He had already pleaded guilty and does accept he was involved, Judge Baxter was told.

Leavy is deeply ashamed. He is from a good family. The injured man is well-known to his father.

He is in new employment for the last six weeks in construction at Dublin Port. Leavy is also active in sports and trains kids.

He can't fully comprehend how he got involved. A probation report says he is considered as low risk of re-offending.

Judge Baxter remarked the defendants felt it necessary to go to someone's home at 4am.

'That's what I'm having difficulty with,' she added.

The judge considered remanding the three men in custody until the adjourned date.

It was an horrific offence. The lady was trying to help her partner as he was on the ground. They were trying to pull her off and stop her protecting her partner.

'Three of them were there, part of a pack,' the judge added.

Judge Baxter said she wanted Leavy and Kerley's probation officer to see the victim impact report.

She also ordered a first probation report on Smyth, and said restorative justice should be investigated in respect of all three defendants.

The judge added Leavy should address his issues in minimising his role.

The money is to be handed over to the victim.

The Argus