Man who struck a stranger who fell and sustained a brain injury avoids a jail term

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By Brion Hoban

A man who struck a stranger who then fell and sustained a brain injury which required life-saving surgery has received a fully suspended sentence.

Stephen Duffy (28) initially left the scene after striking the man, but then returned and placed the victim into the recovery position.

Duffy of Homelawn Road, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing serious harm at Belgard Road, Tallaght, on August 29, 2016.

The court heard Duffy pleaded guilty to the offence on the basis of reckless. He has no previous convictions.

Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, told the court that CCTV evidence which captures the incident shows “a distinctively dressed person” later identified as the accused man approach the victim and suddenly hit the victim who then fell to the ground.

Mr Foley said the footage shows the accused leave the scene, then return and place the victim in the recovery position. He was identified by gardaí after they tracked his movements earlier in the day via other CCTV footage.

Detective Garda Cian Stears told Mr Foley that the victim required extensive medical treatment requiring life-saving surgery. He sustained a bleed on his brain and was in a coma for a period of time, waking with no memory of the incident.

Det Gda Stears said the victim’s sense of smell and taste have been seriously affected, but has otherwise recovered and is “thinking and mobile”.

Duffy and the victim were unknown to each other and had never met prior to the incident. Following his arrest, Duffy said he did not have a good memory of the night and did not remember assaulting anyone.

The court heard the victim agreed to accept €5,000 from Duffy earlier this year.

Det Gda Stears agreed with Giollaiosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, that it has been “clearly conveyed” to the victim that his client is “extremely remorseful” for what he has done.

He agreed with counsel that his client was at the time drinking too much. He agreed Duffy has not come to adverse garda attention since the incident.

Mr Ó Lideadha said he wanted to specifically articulate his client’s sincere apology to the victim. He said his client takes full responsibility for the incident and wishes he could take the night back.

Judge Melanie Greally said she accepts Duffy is someone who is very genuinely remorseful for his actions and is “not inclined” to this behaviour.

Judge Greally said what was unusual about this case is that there was no build up or aggression prior to the blow that led the victim to striking the ground and sustaining “a very serious head injury”.

She said in addiction to this, the actions of Duffy in returning to the victim and assisting him are “untypical”.

The judge said the victim spent two weeks in a coma and he was “fortunate to escape with his life” by reason of the impact and injury sustained.

Judge Greally sentenced Duffy to four years imprisonment, but suspended the entirety of the sentence on strict conditions including that he pay an additional €10,000 to the victim within a two year period.

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