TWO Swinford men who kicked a man and his girlfriend while they were on the ground in a drunken attack were warned if they ‘breath in the wrong direction’ in the next 12 months they will go to prison for three years.
Anthony Moran (21) of 28 Brabazon Heights, Swinford and Eamon Howley (32) of 22 Brabazon Heights, Swinford both pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Ger Prendergast outside a Swinford takeaway in the early hours of June 19, 2011.
Mr Prendergast was attacked by a group of three men including the two accused and left in an unconscious state when he was kicked to the ground. His girlfriend, Stephanie Murphy was also kicked on the ground when she lay on top of him to protect him from his attackers.
At last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Court, Judge Rory Mac Cabe said the attacks were fuelled by alcohol and possibly drugs which showed a lack of respect for their fellow human beings.
The maximum sentence he could impose was five years imprisonment and recommended they serve three years each. However following argument from defence counsel to suspend the sentence, he said he would ‘put their faith to the test’ and adjourn sentencing for a year on the condition they stay out of trouble and abstain from drink and drugs.
Mr Moran also pleaded guilty to criminal damage to a door on a bookmaker’s and to the window of a hair salon in Swinford and both those matters were also adjourned.
Earlier Garda Ken Barrett explained that at 1am, he was called to an altercation outside Tony and Tino’s fast-food restaurant in Swinford and found Mr Prendagast lying on the ground and he appeared unconscious. Ms Murphy, he said was hysterical and they were both taken to Mayo General Hospital.
On viewing the CCTV from the restaurant, Garda Barrett said it showed Mr Prendergast being attacked and knocked to the ground by Mr Moran who proceeded to kick him on the ground. Ms Murphy threw herself on Mr Prendagast to protect him and the CCTV showed Howley continued to kick him and also kicked Ms Murphy.
When the two men were arrested and questioned, Mr Moran admitted to the offence but Mr Howley initially denied taking part in the attack until he was shown the CCTV footage. Mr Moran has 14 previous convictions and has served custodial sentences for assault while Mr Howley has eight previous convictions.
Mr Diarmuid Connolly, counsel for Mr Howley said his client was sickened by the attack and after viewing the CCTV told gardaí he was ashamed of himself. Mr Connolly said his client had gone on a drinking binge around Mayo starting at 11am the previous day and drank 15 pints, a bottle of vodka and shots of brandy. He added that he had €2,000 in compensation to give to the victims.
Mr Eoin Garavan, counsel for Mr Moran said that at the time his client was told that Mr Prendergast had thrown a glass at his cousin who was pregnant at the time and that was the reason for attacking him. He said he believed it to be true at the time but realised this was not the case.
Mr Garavan claimed his client left the scene when Ms Murphy threw herself on Mr Prendergast but after viewing the CCTV, Judge Mac Cabe said he did so to pick up his shoe which fell off when he was kicking his victim. Mr Garavan said Mr Moran was shocked at the ferocity of the attack but there was no evidence to show he attacked Ms Murphy.
Judge MacCabe said that neither Mr Prendergast nor Ms Murphy expected to be left defenceless and kicked and punched by ‘thugs’ when they went out. He described Mr Moran’s record as atrocious for his age and said his previous prison sentence had either not taught him a lesson or he did not care. In relation to Mr Howley, he said he did not have youth on his side but added if he addressed his addictions he may ‘become an ordinary member of society’.
In adjourning the sentence he ordered that they comply with all directions of the probation service and gardaí and provide urinalysis samples.
He said if they do this and their samples are negative he may suspend a ‘substantial if not all their sentence’ but warned if they failed to do this they will be serving their three year sentence.