A young man who was recovering from surgery to save his left eye was punched in the face at a nightclub in Cork and lost all sight in the eye and now the man who struck him has been given a four-year suspended jail sentence.
The case of assault causing serious harm to the young man at the Hidden Attic premises on Hanover Street in Cork came before Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Conor Foley of 19 Assumption Villas, Rockingham, Passage West, County Cork, pleaded guilty to the charge of intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Eamon Collins at Hidden Attic on September 12, 2019.
Foley apologised at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. “I would like to say it was not my intention that night to come out and cause damage to anyone. I was just going out with my friends like I had done many times before. It won’t ever happen again. I am not a bad person.
"I am sorry for all the things he (the injured party) will have to go through. If I could take it back I would. It will never happen again.”
In his victim impact report, Mr Collins said that it was very hard to deal with the injury he sustained on the night.
“It will affect me the rest of my life,” Mr Collins said.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said, “Eamon Collins suffered serious life-changing injuries as a result of this assault. His previously compromised eye is now blinded. The visual effect he feels is unpleasant. There is no doubt he is left with no sight in the eye. It is a traumatic effect that is life-changing and permanent.
“His ability to drive and take part in sports has been utterly and fundamentally changed. He is worried about his ability to work. He is left with the reality that nothing can be done to improve the situation.”
The judge said that without mitigation the appropriate sentence would have been four years.
In mitigation Judge Ó Donnabháin said the accused man did not seek out trouble on the night and there was no history of difficulty between the parties. The judge took the remorse and insight of the accused man as genuine.
Garda Shane Coakley outlined the background to the incident. He said the injured party had surgery to his left eye in 2018.
Garda Coakley said the injured party was out in Cork on the night and ended up in the smoking area of the Hidden Attic where there was a verbal argument with Conor Foley.
In one punch to the injured party’s face the damage was done to his left eye.
The defendant threw two more punches as the bouncers were breaking it up.
Garda Coakley said Foley had no previous convictions. The 19-year-old was 18 at the time of the assault.
Dermot Sheehan defence barrister said €3,000 compensation had been raised and it was unlikely that it would be possible to raise more because of the defendant’s circumstances.
Mr Sheehan said it was not like the defendant was out looking for a fight.
He said, “Unfortunately, Mr Collins came back again and again and he (Foley) reacted disproportionately. He did not go out to cause any serious harm.”
The defence barrister said there was no patch or bandage on the injured party’s eye on the night to indicate any pre-existing injury to the eye to the defendant or anyone who would not have known him.