Limerick man may avoid jail term after serious attack

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Solicitor John Herbert; 'Clarke unlikely to re-offend ever again'
A TALENTED soccer player who seriously injured a man after repeatedly kicking in the head may escape a prison term.

A TALENTED soccer player who seriously injured a man after repeatedly kicking in the head may escape a prison term.

Limerick District Court heard that Judge Mary Larkin is considering imposing either a nine-month prison sentence or 200 hours of community, after hearing a favourable report by the Probation Service on his progress in recent months.

Thomas Clarke, 28, with an address at Colbert Avenue, Janesboro, was charged with assault causing harm on April 1, 2013, on a 34 year-old man, at Janesboro Football Club, and was charged by Garda Paul Howard.

The victim sustained two broken jaws, a fracture to the right side of his skull, a fracture to the left side of his face, soft tissue injuries and a depressed eye-socket.

He has lost all feeling on one side of his face and his hearing has also been affected.

In his evidence, Clarke admitted there had been an altercation but denied kicking the victim. He said he had exchanged punches with him and returned to the clubhouse after knocking the injured party to the ground.

At an earlier hearing, the mother of the victim said she still relives what happened to her son every night.

The victim said that he had been socialising with members of his family on Easter Sunday night and that a row had broke out in the bar area of the club over a game of pool. He said he had put his name down for a game and that when it was rubbed out he started roaring and shouting and giving out. He agreed that he “a few drinks taken” and said it was “not my proudest moment.” CCTV footage shows him being brought outside by staff at around 12.31am – less than 10 minutes before he was assaulted.

The victim told the court he has no recollection of what happened after he was brought outside and that all he can remember was waking up in hospital.

Solicitor John Herbert, defending, said his client did not go out with the intention of injuring anyone, and is “genuinely remorseful” for what has happened. “He arrived at this hour of his life having behaved responsibly at all times, and he is unlikely to re-offend in the next 12 months or ever again. It was a once-off,” he told the court.

Judge Larkin said she remembered this case well, and thought that if the previous judge hadn’t accepted jurisdiction that far more serious penalties could have been imposed on the defendant in the circuit court.

“The injured party suffered a vicious assault, resulting in injuries, surgery, the loss of hearing in one ear, a diminution in his lifestyle and functions, and he has not been able to work full time. However, he still has a partner and is engaged. They were out having a big night out. One suffered the consequences of this and the other will never forget it for the rest of his life,” she said.

Judge Larkin said while the crime warrants a custodial sentence, she is also taking into account the defendant’s plea, his otherwise clean record, that he is gainfully employed and has expressed remorse. Though she noted that those factors may be of little solace to the victim. She outlined that she is considering community service of 200 hours in lieu of a prison sentence, and will finalise matters on Friday, March 27.