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Limerick boxer avoids prison for throwing 'sucker punch' in affray

Limerick Circuit Court was told the defendant, who is successful amateur boxer, was identified as the culprit after gardai found his profile on Facebook.

Limerick Circuit Court was told the defendant, who is successful amateur boxer, was identified as the culprit after gardai found his profile on Facebook

AN Limerick electrician who struck a young man across the head knocking him unconscious has avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Paul Kiely, aged 30, of Main Street, Herbertstown pleaded guilty to assaulting the man at Upper Henry Street in the city on October 13, 2015.

Previously, Limerick Circuit Court was told the defendant, who is successful amateur boxer, was identified as the culprit after gardai found his profile on Facebook.

Garda David Barry said gardai were alerted to the incident near the front door of the Quick Pick store shortly after 10pm.

He said that on arrival gardai observed a 22-year old man “laid out on the ground” and quickly established that he had been knocked unconscious after he sustained a punch to the head short time earlier.

Witnesses described how the culprit had driven off in a silver Audi TT car.

While the motivation for the assault was never definitively identified, gardai believe Mr Kiely, who according to witnesses was drunk, may have reacted to a comment which he believed related to a woman who was with him.

Judge Tom O’Donnell was told CCTV footage of the incident shows the defendant leaving the store before turning back and running “straight at” the victim as he was leaving the store.

“He hit him with a punch, stood on his head and walked away”, said Garda Barry who agreed the whole incident lasted for less than a minute.

Michael Collins BL, said his client – an accomplished boxer and qualified electrician – had never been on the garda radar prior to the incident and that he has not come to their attention since.

He told the court what happened on the night was “totally out of character” for Mr Kiely who he said had placed the injured man in the recovery position before leaving the area.

“This a decent young man who made a serious error in judgment,” he said adding that he accepts he is lucky the injuries he inflicted were not more serious.

During a review of the case on Tuesday, Mr Collins said his client, who is currently unemployed, had raised €1,000 by way of compensation.

“It is a genuine gesture on his part to show his remorse,” he said.

He said Mr Kiely is engaging with various services “to enhance his employability” with a view to securing a job.

Imposing sentence, Judge Tom O’Donnell said being a boxer Mr Kiely should have known “how to channel his energy” and should have controlled his temper on the night.

Describing the injured party as being defenceless, he said he had been struck with a “sucker punch” which could have had more serious consequences.

The judge said the defendant’s admissions and his guilty plea were mitigating factors as was the fact that he has not been in trouble since.

However, he said people who carry out such gratuitous assaults must be willing to face the consequences.

After directing that the €1,000 raised by Mr Kiely be paid over to the victim as soon as possible, he imposed a 12 month prison sentence which he suspended for 12 months.

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