A 26-year-old father of three young children charged with assaulting both a Belmullet publican and a man who came to her aid appeared before Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court last week.
Michael Lawrence, of Cloonishlaun, Church Road, Ballina, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing harm on July 27, 2013, at the Corner House pub.
Garda Hugh Egan told Judge Rory McCabe that he went to the pub after receiving a report of an incident there at 11.30pm on the night in question.
On arrival, the licensee, Linda Conway informed him that the accused had punched her in the face. Mr Lawrence had also assaulted a man, John Gibbons, who tried to stop the assailant leaving the premises. Mr Gibbons was injured behind his ear with a gash from a glass. Lawrence fled the scene in a car but returned. When approaching the pub again the garda stopped him and removed him from the vehicle.
Prosecuting counsel, Pat Reynolds, explained that the accused had been drinking alcohol not purchased on the premises.
The court heard that Lawrence was ‘genuinely remorseful’ and had offered the two injured parties a sum of €5,000 between them, which they were willing to accept.
Defence counsel Brian Storan said testimonials from his client’s GP confirmed he had in recent months been ‘addressing his serious alcohol issues’ while the principal of his children’s school said that Michael and his wife were ‘excellent parents’ who always had their children well-prepared for school. His parish priest said in his testimonial that ‘a custodial sentence would have a particularly adverse effect on his family’. The court was also told that both his father and father-in-law were suffering from cancer. Mr Storan added that the Probation Report stated his client would benefit from available supports and would be suitable for community service.
“I would ask you to seriously consider suspending a good part of his sentence,” Mr Storan said.
Dubbing Mr Lawrence’s assaults as ‘two cowardly acts’, Judge McCabe said: “A person who gets so drunk that they have no control must accept the consequences.” He noted that there was a weapon used in one case.
Citing the mitigating factors outlined, Judge McCabe said he was looking at a two-and-a-half-year custodial sentence in respect of each matter but would put sentencing back until October 19 next to see how Mr Lawrence got on with the Probation Services.