Monday, January 23, 2023

Eimear Dodd

A man who was part of a group of “absolute thugs” who struck a student on the back of the head with a bottle has been jailed for three years.

Sean Norris (22) of Ballyman Road, Dublin 11, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at South Great George’s Street, Dublin on July 23th, 2019. Norris has 23 previous convictions, including four for assault.

Imposing sentence on Monday, Judge Pauline Codd said, “one can’t understate the cowardice of a group of people attacking one person from behind,” she said.

Judge Codd said the victim was an active person who could not play sports for a period of time after this incident. She said there had to be a deterrence to stop people hanging out in groups “behaving as absolute thugs” on the streets.

Judge Codd noted the victim was struck repeatedly on the back of the head and the outcome could have been “more serious”.

Judge Codd imposed a four-year prison sentence, with the final 12 months suspended on strict conditions including that Norris place himself under the supervision of the Probation Service.

City centre assault

Garda Eimear Fagan told the court that gardaí were in a patrol car at 3.15am when they received reports of a male being assaulted by a group of men.

The victim was on a night out with friends, one of whom told gardaí she saw three to four men surround him. The court heard that it is the prosecution’s case that Norris hit the injured party on the back of the head with a bottle.

The accused was seen by gardaí walking from the scene, and later arrested after he crossed the Millennium Bridge. Gardaí observed Norris’s hands were covered in blood and there was blood on his clothing.

CCTV evidence and shards of broken bottle were collected from the scene. An analysis later matched the victim’s DNA to blood found on the glass bottle and to blood found on Norris’s clothing.

The victim was taken to hospital and treated for cuts to the back of his head, face and hand. A medical report was handed to the court, which stated that the victim also sustained a bleed to his brain and suffered severe headaches for several months after the incident.

A victim impact statement was also submitted, in which the injured party said he was advised not to play sports for nine months following the attack. He said he suffered from stress and anxiety following the attack, which affected his studies.

Gda Fagan told defence counsel that Norris acted as part of a group and efforts to identify the others involved have been unsuccessful so far.

She agreed Norris was co-operative when arrested and has come to garda attention since this incident, but not recently. Norris’s previous convictions are primarily District Court offences. The investigating garda agreed with defence counsel that Norris has polysubstance addiction issues and mental health difficulties.

Judge Codd said she felt a suspended sentence would not be effective to deter this type of conduct.

She said one of the “most chilling aspects” of the case was the act of violence was committed by four people.

Judge Codd said it was an aggravating factor that Norris acted as part of a group and was found with blood on his hands and the victim’s blood was identified on his shorts.

Judge Codd noted that Norris has particular vulnerabilities which reduce his culpability.

Judge Codd said the accused is in need of support to help him to address his addiction issues that may “trigger this type of anti-social behaviour”.

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