By Declan Brennan & Brion Hoban
An apprentice carpenter left brain damaged after a late night single punch assault has told a court that his life has changed beyond recognition because of his injuries.
Conor McCormack, 30, was knocked unconscious and spent 11 days in a coma after Raul Pop punched him in the jaw.
Pop and his two co-accused, who were extremely drunk and had been hassling a homeless man, followed the victim and his friends up O’Connell Street on November 3 last year.
Witnesses to the assault described hearing “a sickening sound” that sounded like a sliotar hitting a hurley when the victim’s head hit the footpath after the punch.
Pop was jailed for five years, with two suspended. Sandor was jailed for two years. Bindea was given a two year suspended sentence.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Pop, 25, Cosmin Sandor, 24, and Vladut Bindea, 21, shared two bottles of vodka between them in a nightclub.
The court heard that nightclub staff threw Sandor out because he was too drunk and his friends left with him.
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The victim and his friends had also left the same nightclub when they saw one of the defendants kicking a homeless man inside his tent and told him to leave the man alone.
A brief scuffle ensued. The attackers again pursued the other men and Pop ran up behind Mr McCormack and forcefully punched him in the jaw.
The victim was knocked out and hit the ground head-first, suffering bleeding on the brain. He didn’t regain consciousness for weeks and his family were told to prepare for the worst.
Pop, of Meath Street, Dublin, pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm.
Sandor and Bindea, both also of Meath Street, Dublin, pleaded guilty to violent disorder.
In a victim impact statement, Mr McCormack said his life has changed beyond recognition since the attack.
He received 44 staples to his skull and 22 across his stomach. He had to take speech therapy and retrain how to eat and swallow. He said his girlfriend had to feed and bathe him and he lost all dignity.
When he was told he may never fully recover from the brain damage, he said he wished he had died and he cried himself to sleep every night.