Thursday 18 July 2019

Suspended jail term for stag party visitor assault

Ciara Galvin

A brother and sister who assaulted a man who was visiting Sligo for a stag party in 2017 have been spared prison terms.

Ruth Nooney (35) of 17, Treacy Avenue and Gregory Nooney (23) of 10 Oak Park, Maugheraboy were both spared prison sentences after they both pleaded guilty to assaulting a Mr Gavin Pritchard at Stephen St car park on 20th October, 2017.

Ruth Nooney appeared before Sligo Circuit Court on Thursday last where she was given a one-year suspended prison sentence for the assault of Mr Gavin Pritchard, a man who was visiting Sligo on his brother's stag party when the assault took place.

The court had previously heard evidence that Mr Pritchard was making his way over the footbridge to the Garavogue with his cousin when he was assaulted by Ruth Nooney and then Gregory.

CCTV footage of the assault was shown to Sligo Circuit Court. It showed Ruth Nooney approach the men in the car park first and then a fight broke out when Ruth Nooney ran at the men. Gregory Nooney got involved soon after throwing 'strong punches', according to Judge Frances Comerford.

Mr Pritchard sustained an incised wound under his left eye, bruising and swelling and also suffered a 4mm wound to his chin. Glass had to be removed from his eye by an ambulance team on the night, before he was taken to the hospital.

The court heard there was no evidence Mr Pritchard was hit with a bottle on the night.

Before sentencing, Judge Comerford (right) described Ruth Nooney as 'the instigator' and said she reacted 'completely unreasonable'.

"She was over him [Mr Pritchard] punching him when he was defenceless on the ground," said the Judge, adding that the attack was 'sustained' when the victim was on the ground.

Judge Comerford described Nooney as a 'very caring mother' who was coping with difficulties in her life 'very well' and said he was satisfied she accepted responsibility for the assault by writing a letter of apology to the victim.

The Judge sentenced Nooney to a one-year prison sentence suspending it in its entirety for a period of one year.

The suspension was applied on the basis that Nooney remains under the supervision of the Probation Service, reports to a Probation Officer, completes a 'Choices and Challenges' course and follows all directions of the Probation Service.

In relation to Gregory Nooney, Judge Comerford noted that he accepted personal responsibility for the assault and had no previous convictions.

The Judge also noted a Probation Report stating the belief that Nooney would not be involved in crime in the future. Judge Comerford outlined that though Nooney expressed an interest in providing compensation to the victim, the fact Nooney is currently unemployed was an issue.

Judge Comerford adjourned the matter back to the first circuit court sitting after Easter next year.

He outlined that whether or not Nooney put in place a 'meaningful gesture of compensation' would influence 'how lenient the court could be' on that date.

Judge Comerford added that a custodial sentence would not be an option in relation to this matter.

Sligo Champion