Saturday 19 October 2019

Knife slasher gets two years

Scottish visitor left with horrific scarring to his face after he was attacked with knife by defendant

Gerry McLaughlin

A young Mullaghmore man who “viciously” slashed a Scottish visitor with a knife in the face which needed 57 stitches, and in the chest, which needed 17 stitches, has been jailed for two years, at Donegal Town Circuit Court.

In jailing 18-year-old Serge Kelly, Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Judge John Aylmer said a suspended jail sentence would “send out the wrong message to young men who have recourse to assault with a weapon”.

He added that the offence “was far too serious to wholly suspend the sentence” and it was an “unprovoked assault”.

The judge imposed a four-year jail sentence on the defendant, with the final two years suspended. The judge said the defendant was part of a “gang who battered and kicked Brody Williams after he had rightfully remonstrated with them for anti- social behaviour”.

The judge noted that the young man, who was drinking and taking drugs at the time of the attack, had made significant progress in rehabilitation and education and hoped he would continue that while in prison and on his release.

The young man was bound to the peace on a bond of €100 and was told to obey all instructions from the Probation Service on his release.

Garda Christopher Sweeney told the court earlier that the youths were smashing glass on the ground underneath the victim’s flat at Assaroe Falls at the Rory Gallagher Festival in Ballyshannon when the victim asked them to stop.

The defendant, who was adopted from Belarus at the age of three, had pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting Mr Williams, a Scottish visitor to the Festival on June 2 2017, causing him serious harm.

A charge of production of an article, a knife in the course of a dispute was taken into consideration. Brody Williams suffered horrific injuries, leaving him permanently scarred, the court heard.

The defendant was 17 when the offence occurred.

A harrowing victim impact statement gave some graphic details of the life altering injuries the 25-year-old Masters graduate, Mr Williams suffered.

He was not able to come to court, but it was read out in his absence.

“I look and feel like a different person with a scar which doctors were too scared to treat.

“I suffered life changing injuries for no reason or fault of my own and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“My face is indented, and I have a horrible reminder by looking in the mirror after I meet someone”.

The statement added that the victim suffered alopecia as a result of the stress, weight loss and panic attacks.

“My face is on fire and it is a vicious circle”.

The statement continued that the victim hoped people would not judge him when they saw the scar. Two years had passed and there was not much progress in his life.

He was previously sociable and outgoing and now he wanted to avoid people at all times.

“I was 25 and had just graduated with a Masters in Industry and Design, but could not start a career because of my injuries”.

The victim had played football to a high level and had gone from taking a lot of exercise four times a week to doing nothing.

And nearly two years on he was getting treatment for his face which was very painful.

He added that he hoped his testimony would “prevent someone else ending up with life changing injuries through simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Garda Sweeney told the court the incident happened after Brody Williams called down to the youths and seven of them attacked him, including Kelly.

The garda said the victim needed plastic surgery for his injuries.

He had to get injections to his face according to a medical report in 2017. The victim has a scar from his nose to his chin.

The young men fled the scene, but subsequent arrests were made after information received.

Kelly, initially denied any knowledge of a knife and said it was a fist fight. He later asked to speak to a solicitor and made full admissions at the second interview

The defendant admitted taking the blade of the knife, wiping the blood from it and putting it back in the knife and discarding it in a nearby car park.

Kelly admitted aiming for the victim’s face and “could feel the connection but did not know it was as bad as it was”.

Defence counsel Colm Smyth with Keith O’Grady BL instructed by Mr Gerard McGovern, solicitor, said his client had drunk three cans of Budweiser on the day of the incident.

The injuries to the victim’s chest and face had turned the defendant’s stomach and he was full of remorse and said was “very sorry”.

The defendant had ADHD and was on life- long medication for this mental illness.

In reading out a letter of apology, the court heard the defendant thought the victim would be in court.

Addressing the victim, he said could not “begin to tell him how sorry he was”.

As a result of his action he had left a scar on “your face that has ruined your life”. He said he would not wish this on anyone, and it would affect Brody getting a job, having relationships and contact with others.

He added that it should never have happened, and he was ashamed.

“I can’t believe I have done such a disgraceful, horrible thing”.

He said he hoped the victim could forgive him even though he did not deserve it.

He started drinking when he was 12 but had refrained from alcohol and other substances and was re-sitting his Leaving Cert having left school when he was 16.

He had taken a Youth Reach Programme and had applied for a Legal Studies Course in Ballinode College and was trying to put his life back on a sound footing.

A Probation Report assessed the defendant as being at a low risk of re-offending.

The defendant said he wanted a life for himself but “the path that I was on I got dragged into” and “I won’t do it again”.

Defence counsel Mr Smyth said the victim impact statement from the victim was “harrowing” and was fully “appreciated by the accused”. He had expressed early remorse, had got rehab and will ashamed of his actions for the rest of his life.

“He is not mad or bad but a young man suffering from a condition that needs to be stabilised”.

The defendant was now on medication that agreed with him and was fearful that unless he has access to this medication, he might have a hard time in jail.

The counsel said this was not a cold- blooded attack and his chance of a better life might be undone in a custodial sentence.

“I would say he will not darken the court again”.

Sligo Champion