| 7.8°C Dublin

Brain op victim's appeal spares attacker from jail

A COLLEGE graduate who underwent emergency brain surgery after he was viciously assaulted on Grafton Street has welcomed a judge's decision not to jail his attacker.

Brave Thomas Carter (23), from Monkstown, was left fighting for his life after being punched by Declan McGowan, of North Circular Road, following a night out in the city centre almost two years ago.

Despite having to undergo life saving surgery, Mr Carter pleaded for his attacker to be spared a prison term.

In a victim impact read out in Dublin Circuit Court last month, he described McGowan as a "culprit with a conscience".

The victim had two metal plates inserted into his skull following the attack on May 29, 2011. But speaking to the Herald, Mr Carter described the sentence as the "correct punishment".

"I do not believe prison would have helped this guy. I think he would have come of prison a worse person. That's not what I wanted," he said.

"Some people thought I was mad for asking the judge not to jail him. But it's what I felt was the right thing to do. He shook my hand after the sentence was read out. I do believe he is truly remorseful," he added.

Mr Carter had been out drinking with two friends, watching the Champions League final on the night of the attack.

An argument developed between Mr Carter and a rickshaw driver on Grafton Street when two of his friends ran away without paying. During the argument, Mr Carter knocked the driver's hat off his head.


McGowan then "came out of nowhere" and punched Mr Carter who fell and knocked his head against the ground. McGowan was a friend of the rickshaw driver and mistakenly thought Mr Carter had struck him.

McGowan walked away as the victim lay unconscious. There was another altercation with Mr Carter's friend before McGowan left the scene.

The court heard that McGowan became worried about his victim and ran to a nearby ambulance to report a suspected head injury.

Scans revealed bleeding within the skull. Surgery was carried out at Beaumont Hospital and Mr Carter required 41 staples.

After the assault, McGowan, told a near-by paramedic what happened. He also rang the hospital and a Herald reporter who first reported the attack.

Amateur boxer McGowan was reduced to tears when shown photos of his victim's injuries and vowed never to punch anyone again.

He told gardai: "If I had known it would come to this, I never would have touched him."

Mr Carter he told the Herald that yesterday's sentence meant he can now "finally move on".

"I just graduated from IADT. My life will go on, and I'm glad his will too."

Judge Patricia Ryan yesterday handed McGowan a three-year suspended sentence and said that Mr Carter's plea for leniency influenced her decision not to jail him.

She ordered McGowan to do 60 hours community service if he is found suitable and to undergo one year probation supervision.