Community service for football “sucker punch”

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By Stephen Bourke

An amateur footballer has been ordered to complete 240 hours of community service for a “sucker punch” that left a fellow player with a broken jaw after a row on the pitch.

Ciaran Murray (27), of Killinarden Heights, Tallaght, Dublin 24, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm during a soccer match at Donaghmede Park on February 3, 2020.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the match had been a “dirty game”, and following a tackle the injured party was speaking to the referee when he felt a blow to the side of his head.

He was knocked to the ground, and felt himself bleeding.

Judge Karen O’Connor said the evidence was that Murray “ran over and jumped in and hit him in the heat of the moment”.

Judge O’Connor said the injured party said in his victim impact statement that he had “boxed in the army” and did MMA for almost ten years and had never received a blow the like of that.

The court heard the victim was able to walk away from the scene and make it home – but then went to Beaumont Hospital for treatment. An X-ray showed he had a broken jaw, with his mandible fractured in two places.

He spent four days in hospital being treated for his injuries, and had to have wires and braces installed in his mouth.

The victim said the “sucker punch” had left him drinking nothing but tomato juice through a straw for weeks.

His speech is “not the same as it was” and he has difficulty pronouncing certain words, and he isn’t able to kiss his daughter the same way.

He also suffered a financial loss of €480, the court heard.

Eoin Lawlor, BL, defending, said Murray had endeavoured to make a payment of €1,500 to his victim as a practical gesture of remorse, but that it had been refused.

He said the assault was an “aberration” in Murray’s previous good character and that he had gone to the gardaí voluntarily and co-operated fully with their investigation, and asked that prison be a “last resort” for him.

“It is apparent he is remorseful,” said Judge Karen O’Connor. “He’s 27 years of age and he’s never been in trouble before.”

She said she would consider the headline sentence for the assault to be three years in prison, and that two years would be appropriate for the crime – but that she would impose 240 hours of community service in lieu of prison time.

“Mr Murray is right to feel remorseful and ashamed for his behaviour. He will live with the consequences,” she said.

She directed that the €1,500 be paid to Barnardos within 28 days, and listed the matter for mention on July 28, next, to confirm the money was paid.

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