A WESTPORT man who suffered dental injuries as a result of an unprovoked one-punch assault says he is always looking over his shoulder when in public.
Ryan Scott (25) from Aughagower, Westport, was punched in the face by Michael Conroy (19) outside the Castlecourt Hotel in Westport in what was described as an unprovoked attack. The incident occurred at 2.10am on October 29, 2017 when Mr Scott was walking along Castlebar Street after he attended the local nightclub.
Garda John McNamara told last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court that Mr Scott was walking back towards the nightclub after forgetting his jacket when Mr Conroy of Moneen Campsite, Castlebar, punched him in the face.
Judge Francis Comerford was told that Mr Conroy was in a group of four or five youths when he punched Mr Scott as he walked by.
Mr Scott spat out two of his teeth at the scene before he was brought home by family members. He reported the incident to the gardaí before being brought to Mayo University Hospital, where an X-ray showed he did not suffer a fracture to the face.
However, a few days later he attended a dentist in Westport and discovered five of his teeth were fractured as a result of the assault and he needs ongoing treatment.
Garda McNamara said Mr Conroy was identified as the person who threw the punch on CCTV. He was arrested and interviewed but gave very little information to gardaí before he was charged. He later pleaded guilty when he was brought before the court.
In a victim impact statement read out in court by Pat Reynolds, counsel for the prosecution, Mr Scott outlined how the incident has affected his life since. He said he was no longer comfortable in public and would get nervous if he saw a group of people coming towards him and would have to cross the road.
He added he was constantly looking over his shoulder when out and was in fear since the assault. He said his sporting activities have been impacted as a result and it had a huge impact on his family.
The court heard that Mr Conroy had no previous convictions and was ashamed of what he did and his barrister, Áine Boyle said he wished to apologise to his victim and he had €900 in compensation for Mr Scott.
Ms Boyle said that her client thought Mr Scott had said something to him as he passed but was not using it as an excuse for his actions. She said he was a married man with an eight-month-old baby and asked Judge Comerford to give him a chance.
In sentencing Judge Comerford said that due to the unprovoked nature of the assault and the damage done to Mr Scott’s teeth, it would attract a sentence in the range of three years imprisonment. He said the easiest thing he could do was to impose a term of imprisonment as the offence warranted a term of imprisonment.
However, Judge Comerford said he had to take into account the requirement of rehabilitation and this could be jeopardised by a term imprisonment. He said he would impose an 18-month sentence which he would suspend in full for a period of 24 months on the condition he continues to engage with the probation services for that period.
Mr Conroy was also ordered to pay an additional €1,500 to Mr Scott which is to be paid in three instalments with the final instalment on July 1, 2020. A failure to pay the compensation would be considered a breach of his suspended sentence.