By Declan Brennan
Lawyers for the son of former politician Ivor Callely have described his lighting of a firework in a crowded nightclub as “moronically stupid and dangerous”.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Oliver Callely (27) was standing on a balcony overlooking a crowded smoking area when he lit the firework. The firework took off and got stuck between the arm and body of the victim.
Callely of St Lawrences Road, Clontarf, Dublin, pleaded guilty last October at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to igniting fireworks at Copper Face Jacks nightclub on Harcourt Street on September 6, 2015.
At his sentence hearing today Dean Kelly BL, defending, told the court that earlier that day Dublin had beaten Mayo in a football replay and his client had drunk a great deal.
The court heard they were sell-out games and that the nightclub was very crowed, with hundreds if not thousands of people. The victim was in the smoking area when he saw a spark and heard a bang before realising he had “caught on fire”.
He patted himself down and said it wasn’t sore at the time. He said he began to feel pain a little later and he was treated by the nightclub’s onsite medical centre.
Eight times in burns unit
The next day he still felt in pain and was referred to A&E by his GP and was treated in the burns unit. He attended the burns unit eight times over the next two months.
The court heard Callely had the firework from earlier in the day when fireworks were being lit during the football game.
A friend of Callely’s told gardaí that he had pleaded with the defendant not to light the 3 inch long blue firework. Callely dropped the firework and “it seemed to take off”, Detective Garda Niall Murray said.
Callely was arrested after coming to a garda station by arrangement. He made no comment during interviews and a file was sent to the DPP.
He left the jurisdiction prior to being charged and took up work in the US. He was later arrested under an extradition warrant and spent just under a month in a federal facility. Gda Murray said that Callely described to him his time in US custody and it sounded “very brutal”.
Det Murray told the court that Callely has no other convictions and was given the Probation Act for an offence of assault causing harm committed at Copper Face Jacks on October 25, 2014. Callely was on bail for this matter when he lit the firework the following year.
‘Magnanimous’ victim does not want Callely to go to jail
In an impact statement the victim said that the injuries have impacted his sports career and he still experiences itchiness and discomfort where he was burned.
He said Callely’s actions were dangerous and could have had much worse consequences but he didn’t wish Callely to go to prison.
Mr Kelly said his client’s behaviour was a “moronically stupid and dangerous act” and “It was reckless as opposed to having any intention to cause harm.”
He said his client had had a troubled and difficult family life and his parents are separated. He said his mother and sister are decent hard working people and were in court to support him.
Relationship with father
Counsel said that Callely had not enjoyed a positive relationship with his father and he had experienced difficulties as a result of his father’s public profile.
Mr Kelly said that since returning to Ireland his client had abided by all his bail conditions and has worked hard. He said Callely came to court with an unconditional offer of €1,000 for the victim.
He said this was all the money his client had right now but that his family had provided €2,500 as a bail surety and that when this is returned to them this can be made available to the complainant.
“He is desperately fortunate that his victim has being as magnanimous,” Mr Kelly said.
Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, said that the maximum penalty is five years imprisonment.
Judge Karen O’Connor adjourned the case to February 7 next. She ordered a Probation Service report to include an assessment for Callely’s suitability for community service.
She told Mr Kelly that this should not be taken as an indication of the sentence she will impose.