| 10.4°C Dublin

Girl (10) watched as dad slashed in face

A judge expressed concern over young men's "ready use" of knives in disputes after hearing a 18-year-old repeatedly stabbed a man in front of his ten-year-old child.

Justin Fagan, now 20, was sentenced to three years in prison with two suspended by Judge Katherine Delahunt.

She said: "The ready use, by you and other young men, of knives to solve disputes is a very serious problem in this city. Young men are going out armed with knives and I have to take this into account."

Fagan, of Rathvale Park, Coolock, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Wayne Carr on June 19, 2008 at Woodbine Road, Raheny.

Sergeant Jack Murphy told prosecuting counsel, Remy Farrell, that Fagan was the nephew of Mr Carr's deceased partner. Mr Carr is also the father of Fagan's then 10-year-old cousin.

Sgt Murphy said Fagan suspected Mr Carr had "improper intentions" towards his girlfriend and there had been text messages and phone calls exchanged over this. Fagan had just finished his Leaving Certificate exams and had been drinking heavily that night when he decided to confront Mr Carr.

He went to the house of a friend who tried to calm him down, but Fagan took a butter knife and went to the victim's home. He started kicking his front door and shouting "come out, come out. Who do you think you are ringing?"

Mr Carr opened the door in his underwear and Fagan lunged at him, stabbing him in the face, just below the hairline. He continued to stab him in the face as Mr Carr tried to protect himself with his hands.

Mr Carr's ten-year-old daughter came downstairs in the middle of the attack and Fagan stopped when she screamed. The attack lasted 20 seconds during which the knife broke on Mr Carr's face.

Fagan started to hug the girl, telling her he loved her and reassuring her, while Mr Carr rang an ambulance. Fagan fled but was found later by gardai at his home. He had told his mother what happened and she had put his blood-stained clothes aside for gardai.

Fagan admitted everything and showed gardai where he had thrown the broken knife after he fled. Mr Carr required 18 stitches and was left with several scars and a disruption in his speech patterns.

Defence counsel Martina O'Neill said Fagan had no previous convictions and had done very well in his Leaving Certificate. She said he had a tragic family background and his father had died from drug abuse.

Judge Delahunt said she noted his admissions and co-operation with gardai but said she had to take into account the "element of premeditation" and the presence of the child during the attack.