By Sonya McLean
A man who stomped on his friend’s head and continued to kick him while he lay unconscious on a packed LUAS has been jailed for a year.
The court heard that witnesses saw Gareth Duffy (44) being struck in the face by a make-shift weapon by the victim before Duffy managed to get the upper hand and knock his friend to the ground. CCTV footage shown to the court showed all the passengers leaving the tram when Duffy can be seen repeatedly stomping on the man’s head while he lay on the floor.
Duffy then got off the tram but twice returned and kicked the man to the head.
Duffy of Stella Gardens, Irishtown, Dublin 4, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm on July 6, 2019. Duffy has 114 previous convictions, which include convictions for assault, public order and violence in a garda station.
Garda Eoin Cannon told John Berry BL, prosecuting, that Duffy remained at the scene until gardaí, including members of the Emergency Response Unit, arrived at the scene.
The victim remained unconscious on the floor of the LUAS and was given emergency medical assistance by the gardaí until an ambulance arrived. The victim didn’t co-operate with the garda investigation or make a victim impact statement. There was no medical report in court to outline his injuries.
Mr Berry advised Judge Pauline Codd before the footage was played in court that the assault was quite shocking.
Gda Cannon agreed that gardaí recovered a make-shift weapon, which he described as two fondue forks taped together. He acknowledged that Duffy had cuts to his face when gardaí arrived at the scene and agreed that there was no evidence that Duffy had used this weapon himself.
Gda Cannon said that Duffy never disputed that he attacked the victim, but claimed he had been acting in self-defence after the man had used this weapon on him.
Gda Cannon agreed with David Perry BL defending that the two men had been friends for 18 months and were captured on CCTV footage getting on the LUAS together.
He accepted that from witness statements and on the basis of Duffy’s account to gardaí, the victim had launched an unprovoked assault on Duffy with the weapon.
Gda Cannon further accepted that the main issue in the case is that Duffy “kept going” in the attack and “showed a complete lack of control” and was clearly “in a rage”.
He acknowledged that Duffy’s plea of guilty is of “added value” considering the victim didn’t want to make a statement or get involved in the garda investigation.
Mr Perry said his client left school at 13 years old and began using drugs from that time, developing an addiction to heroin by 14 years old and progressing to taking the drug intravenously by the time he reached 18.
Counsel said his client has not used drugs in four years and handed in a number of testimonials in relation to Duffy’s rehabilitation, outlining how he has turned his life around in “successfully overcoming his addiction”.
Mr Perry submitted that his client rehabilitation was “exceptional” as he had overcome a 30-year drug addiction and suggested that a term in prison could “derail that whole process”.
Judge Codd acknowledge that Duffy had taken “exceptional steps” in his rehabilitation but said that level of violence on a public tram could not be ignored.
She said the victim was lying “prostrate” when Duffy came back twice and kicked him further in the head, having earlier stomped on his head. She described the violence as appalling.
Judge Codd acknowledged that the victim caused injuries to Duffy’s face but said he got the upper hand and said it is quite clear that he meted particular violence on the victim.
“All sorts of members of the public” had been on the LUAS, the judge said, before she added “they are left with those images on their mind. It is quite obvious by their reactions that they were shocked and appalled by what they saw.”
She said because of the level of violence involved, a headline sentence of five years was warranted.
Judge Codd acknowledged the steps Duffy has taken to rehabilitate and noted that it involved him also assisting other people with their own drug issues. “He has to be commended in terms of the work he has done for himself,” the judge said.
She imposed a sentence of four years before she suspended the final three years of the sentence on strict conditions.
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