Saturday 19 January 2019

Jailed for hitting man with rock in the head

A 30-year-old man who was so drunk he couldn't remember events on the evening in question still denied he assaulted a man outside the Tourist Office on O'Connell Street, Sligo.

David Kelly of Garavogue Villas was charged with assault causing harm to Chakib Benhim on May 18th 2017. He was also summoned for being intoxicated. Kelly pleaded not guilty at Sligo District Court.

Mr Benhim told the court he was outside the Tourist Office with his brother at 11:30pm using the wifi to speak with their mother. He said Kelly came up to them and began urinating nearby.

They asked him to leave them alone and the defendant threw what looked like a rock at his brother and Kelly then hit witness in the face while holding the rock. Witness said he had a serious injury above his eye andwas left with a scar.

Mr Benhim said the attacker also removed his top to show a tattoo on his stomach which had writing on it.

Inspector Donal Sweeney asked if the person was in court and he pointed to the defendant.

Defending solicitor Mr Eddie Henry asked Mr Benhim if he recalled in what direction the person who attacked him went and he replied in the direction of the nightclubs.

Mr Henry said his client had no recollection of meeting him that night and was maintaining he was not the person who attacked him.

Mr Benhim's brother Yasim also gave evidence and said he went with his brother to the garda station after what happened. He said when the defendant started urinating they began to walk away but he kept talking too much and they kept trying to leave. "He was drunk and wanted to fight anyone," he said.

He then noticed blood on his brother's face and took him to the garda station and was then brought to hospital. Mr Henry enquired if the brothers had earlier been out socialising and he replied no that they were sitting there having fun before all this happened.

He said he didn't see his brother being struck as he was behind him. Mr Henry asked if it was possible someone else threw the rock. Mr Benhim said he didn't think so as they were the only ones on the street.

When later questioned by gardaí after being arrested on the same night for public order, the defendant said he didn't know who or what the alleged assault was about.

He admitted having a tattoo on his stomach with the word gangster which he got for his 18th birthday and he wouldn't show people it.

He told the court he was drinking in town with his cousin Gary Duncan after being in court and the more he drank the more the day faded away.

Mr Benhim was previously shown a photograph from outside the Garavogue bar which he selected Kelly from as the assailant and Kelly said just because he was picked out of a photograph didn't mean he did it.

He said all he remembered from the night was being brought to Ballymote Garda Station. He told the court he had never seen the two men before in his life. "I have 130 previous convictions not once have I contested, I would hold my hands up if guilty," he said.

Judge Kilrane said it was a serious assault with a nasty permanent scar. He said the defendant was out drinking himself stupid andsays he cannot remember where he was. "How can he possibly say he didn't do it?" He said there was cogent evidence and imposed an 11-month prison sentence.

Sligo Champion