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Garda feared for his life during ‘vicious’ attack in Claremorris

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A GARDA was viciously assaulted by three young men in Claremorris last year. During the attack, he feared for his life.
Garda Ciarán Murphy was kicked in the head and body as he lay on the ground while being attacked by three men while on duty in Claremorris in the early hours of April 16, 2017.
Three Lithuanian nationals appeared before Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court in relation to the attack, which took place on Kilcolman Road, Claremorris. They were named as Kristis Kiepis (19) of 28 Grattan Close, Claremorris; Karolis Astrauskas (22) of 1 Grattan Cresent, Claremorris; and Elvis Vitolins (22) of  14 Chapel Court, Claremorris. Both Mr Kiepis and Mr Astrauskas pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Garda Murphy, while Mr Vitolins pleaded guilty to violent disorder.
In a victim impact statement, Garda Murphy said he never experienced violence like that which was inflicted on him on April 16 last. He said that while he was being attacked, he thought ‘This is the end of me’. He has yet to return to work as a result of his injuries.

House party
Judge Rory McCabe was informed that the Gardaí received complaints of a loud house party at 4.30am, and Garda Murphy and his colleague, Garda Brenda Burke, went to investigate. Mr Kiepis was directed to leave the area by Garda Murphy. When he didn’t comply with the order, Garda Murphy attempted to arrest him.
Mr Kiepis escaped but he was subsequently seen with the two other defendants on the Kilcolman Road. Giving evidence, Sergeant Regina Carley, who was not at the scene on the night, explained that Mr Kiepis’s friends attempted to prevent Garda Murphy from getting to him.
Fearing for his safety, Garda Murphy drew his baton, and according to Sgt Carley, ‘then all hell broke loose’. Mr Kiepis struck Garda Murphy in the side of the face knocking him to the ground and along with Mr Astrauskas, they kicked and punched the garda in the head, torso and lower legs.
Garda Burke was prevented from helping her colleague, and Sgt Carley said Garda Murphy was defenceless on the ground. The defendants fled when Garda Burke radioed for help, and they were later arrested.
Garda Murphy suffered cuts and bruising to his face and was covered in blood following the attack. Sgt Carley said that luckily he was wearing his stab proof vest which prevented him from receiving serious injuries to his torso.
Although Garda Murphy was due to come off duty at 3am, he chose to stay working to help his colleagues on a busy night.
In his victim impact statement he said his last memory was being knocked to the ground with a punch. He said he still suffers from headaches and fears for his health in the future. He also stated that the three defendants have shown no remorse for what happened.

Highly intoxicated
The court heard that when the three men were arrested, they were highly intoxicated and were not fit to be interviewed and a doctor had to be called. None of the three men had any previous convictions. Their defence counsel all stated that there was no justification for the attack and apologised to Garda Murphy for what occurred.
Mr Brendan McDonagh, counsel for Mr Kiepis said his client was 18 at the time of the offence and realises what he did was wrong and was deeply apologetic. He said he could not give an explanation for his actions, but a probation report found him to be of a low risk of reoffending.
Mr Conall McCarthy, counsel for Mr Astrauskas, said his client was 22 at the time. He had lived in Ireland for ten years and had not been involved in criminality. He said on the night events had ‘snowballed’ out of control and that Garda Murphy was the ‘unfortunate victim’ of his client.
Mr Diarmuid Connolly, counsel for Mr Vitolis said his client pleaded guilty to the less serious charge of violent disorder as he had not struck Garda Murphy. He said he was employed and was deemed to be of a low risk of reoffending.
Judge McCabe said it was clear the injuries sustained to Garda Murphy were very serious and they had a profound effect on him. He blamed Mr Kiepis as the instigator for the violence, as he chose on two occasions not to co-operate with the gardaí. If he had co-operated, the violence would have been prevented.
The judge took into account the early guilty pleas but also noted that Mr Astrauskas was of a moderate risk of reoffending because of substance abuse. He stated that Mr Vitolis was a ‘big player’ in the attack, and he sentenced him to 240 hours community service in lieu of 12 months imprisonment.
In relation to the other two defendants, he said the appropriate sentence was three-and-a-half years for Mr Kiepis and three years for Mr Astrauskas. The judge said he would finalise sentencing on October 12 to wait for an updated probation report, and he also sought evidence to show they were alcohol and drug free.

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