A STUDENT who bit off 40% of the upper ear of another student during an unprovoked attack at a fast food restaurant has avoided a prison sentence.
David Fitzgerald, aged 25 of Lynwood Park, Ballysimon pleaded guilty to “intentionally or recklessly” causing serious harm to Christopher Hartigan, 21, at Supermacs O’Connell Street in the early hours of April 12, 2013.
During a sentencing hearing earlier this year, Detective Garda Brendan Casey said Mr Hartigan had been socialising in the city centre with friends and went to Supermacs for food at around 1.15am.
He said while at the counter, he dropped some money and “brushed against” the defendant as he picked it up.
Mr Fitzgerald then threatened to stab Mr Hartigan before leaning in and biting off part of his ear which he then spat onto the ground.
Following his arrest, Mr Fitzgerald identified himself on CCTV footage from the restaurant but said he had no recollection of what happened.
He told gardai he had been drinking with friends the previous day before attending a student raceday at Limerick Racecourse following which he travelled into the city where he continued drinking.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Hartigan said the incident ruined his college experience in Limerick and that he was forced to attend counselling as he developed depression and lost most of his self-confidence some time later.
In his evidence, Mr Fitzgerald’s father, John, said his son was “completely distraught” over what happened. “It isn’t in his nature, it was a drink-fuelled spur-of-the- moment thing,” he said adding that his wife is willing to offer €15,000 in compensation to Mr Fitzgerald.
Imposing sentence, this Wednesday, Judge Tom O’Donnell said the behaviour of the defendant was unacceptable and “cannot and should not be tolerated in a civil society”.
He said a mitigating factor in the case was that the assault was an “isolated split second incident” which was not planned or premeditated.
He said Mr Fitzgerald’s good previous record and the positive contents of a probation report were also important in the context of sentencing.
He imposed a three-year prison sentence suspending it for three years.