Barbershop owner jailed for seven years

By Isabel Hayes

by Gazette Reporter
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A barbershop owner who kicked and stamped on a defenceless man’s head in an attack of the “cruellest” kind, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury, has been jailed for seven years.

Craig Maples (28) of Green Briar, Verdemont, Blanchardstown, Dublin, pleaded guilty to violent disorder and assault causing serious harm to Austin Doherty on Main St, Mulhuddart, on July 21, 2022.

Mr Doherty was left in a coma as a result of the “vicious” attack, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard last week. He has limited mobility in his upper and lower limbs, requires a wheelchair for long distances and suffered a traumatic brain injury, which has left him with significant impairments, a medical report stated.

In a victim impact statement, which he read out in court, Mr Doherty described how he could no longer play with his children like he used to and missed key events in their lives, including his daughter’s first day of school, because he was in a coma.

“This should never have happened to me,” he told the court, detailing how his mind is “tormented” every night. “I’m in my own prison,” he said. “I’m half the man I used to be.”

Mr Doherty said he loved his job, which was physically demanding, and now doesn’t know if he will ever work again. The court heard he and his family have been placed under financial pressure as a result of his medical costs, and his home had to be modified in the wake of the attack.

He spent a period of time in rehabilitation and is still receiving outpatient care.

Sergeant Emma Ryan told the court that Mr Doherty was socialising in a casino in Mulhuddart on the night in question when he was attacked with a bottle by another man. Mr Doherty responded by punching this man, who was then ejected from the casino while Mr Doherty was allowed to remain.

The man who was ejected, who can’t be named for legal reasons, phoned his friend Craig Maples, who jumped in his car and drove to the casino. Another man also joined the pair, the court heard.

When Mr Doherty left the casino, shortly after 4 am, he was chased on foot by one of the men and tripped before being punched several times while on the ground. Maples then arrived on the scene in his car with the first man from the casino, and the three men continued to kick and stamp on Mr Doherty’s head and body.

CCTV footage showing the attack, which lasted around 45 seconds, was played in court. Some of Mr Doherty’s family members left the court in distress while it was shown.

The court heard that a teenage girl who was out walking at the time witnessed the assault and called emergency services. She stayed by Mr Doherty’s side until help arrived.

Simon Matthews BL, defending, said Maples was extremely remorseful for this attack, which counsel acknowledged was “of the cruellest kind”. When interviewed by gardaí, Maples eventually made admissions after witnessing the CCTV of the attack.

He told gardaí: “I never intended to hurt the man so bad. I never thought his injuries would be so severe.” He has no previous convictions.

Mr Matthews said Maples had a troubled childhood. When he was aged 12, his father murdered his uncle and was imprisoned.

Maples set up his own barbershop, Faded, in Mulhuddart, in his early twenties but struggled with addiction to prescription tablets and other drugs during this period, the court heard. On the night of the attack, he had taken tablets, Mr Matthews said.

Since the attack, Maples has attended a drug rehabilitation centre. “He has tried to better himself and make sure the person we saw on that footage is not the person he is for the rest of his life,” counsel said.

Sentencing Maples, Judge Martin Nolan said this was a pre-meditated attack on the part of Maples and the other men. He said while he accepted Maples did not intend to cause a serious brain injury, kicking and stamping on another person’s head could often lead to this outcome, and he was “seriously culpable” as a result.

Judge Nolan said that prior to the attack, Mr Doherty was a “vibrant young man”. He said from his reading of the medical reports, his immediate future is now “grim”, and the attack has deeply affected every aspect of his life.

Judge Nolan agreed with the Director of Public Prosecutions’ assessment that the case fell within the range of a 10 to 15-year sentence, and he set a headline sentence of 12 years.

Taking into account a number of mitigating factors, including Maples’ remorse, early guilty plea, cooperation and background, he was jailed for seven years.

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