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Victim blinded in one eye by party attacker

A FATHER of two has received a four-year prison sentence for an attack that left a PhD student blind in one eye.

Stephen Mooney (23) will serve the sentence after a four-and-a-half year term for trying to rape a girl at a house party while on bail for the assault.

He was one of a group who beat Mapfumo Cuidzambwa (29) with weapons that included a golf club, breaking bones in his face and sinking his right eye into its socket.

Judge Patricia Ryan said she would not forget Mr Cuidzambwa's victim impact report nor the "quiet dignity" with which he delivered it to the court.

She said it was an "unwarranted and unprovoked attack on a defenceless man" and considered a consecutive sentence appropriate given Mooney's "propensity to violence".

Mooney, of Greenfort Lawns, Clondalkin, had earlier been asked to leave a party, had damaged two cars on his way out and then attacked some of the party-goers who had followed to confront him.

Judge Ryan imposed a further one-year sentence for criminal damage, consecutive to the assault sentence, but suspended this on conditions that Mooney places himself under post-release supervision and undergoes alcohol and drug treatment.

Detective Garda Paul Kelly told Anne Marie Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that he found the victim with blood pumping from his face in what he called one of the hardest cases he had ever had to deal with.

He said witnesses who had fled the scene before the attack heard one of the assailants ask: "Do you want to see me crack a n****r's skull?"

Mooney pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Mr Cuidzambwa, causing him harm, and criminal damage of two cars at Greenfort Lawns in the early hours of October 1, 2006. He has 22 previous convictions, including attempted rape.

Mr Cuidzambwa told the court that although doctors had told him they could do nothing for his sight, he still hoped that one day his eye would see again.

He said he had come to Ireland from Zimbabwe in 2001 to study electronic engineering at UCD and had started a PhD in wireless communications.

He had to take a year out from college but when he returned he was told there was no funding so he had to "scale down" his studies and complete a Masters Degree instead.

He said he had struggled financially from when he started college but a scholarship had given him a "glimmer of hope" and he had believed his financial future would be bright.

Since the attack he gets headaches, his injuries have inhibited his working ability and his concentration has suffered.

Mr Cuidzambwa said €20,000 in loans he has accumulated are like a noose around his neck but he feels intimidated seeking jobs like cleaning and waiting tables to help his finances because he believes employers may be prejudiced.

"If I hadn't suffered the vicious attack, my prospects would be different," he said.

Mr Cuidzambwa outlined the social division between black and white people which had existed in Zimbabwe as he was growing up, but which eased in the 1990s.

He said his first proper interaction with white people had been when he attended a Catholic secondary school run by Irish priests, who recommended he go to UCD.