A soccer player who took exception to a foul tackle on a teammate and punched the opponent knocking him unconscious had the leniency of his sentencing appealed by the DPP and now an 18-month suspended sentence has been imposed on him.
At the original sentencing at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Gerard O’Brien gave the defendant the benefit of a dismissal under the Probation of Offenders Act.
Dermot Sheehan, barrister on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions, submitted at the Court of Appeal that undue leniency had been shown to Gary O’Mahony of Cherrytree Road, Togher, Cork, who pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing harm to another young man during a match on Saturday afternoon, November 11 2017.
Mr Sheehan said: “What the director says, in essence, is that the sentencing judge did not take adequate account of the gravity of the offence and the consequences of the offence.”
Mr Justice Frank Clarke suggested that what the DPP appeared to be submitting was that: “The severity would warrant a formal custodial sentence and in the circumstances, there would be justification for full suspension.”
After considering the submissions, the judges decided the appropriate sentence was one of 18 months, fully suspended.
That was to mark the seriousness of the assault but also the previous good character of the accused.
Detective Sergeant Tim Murphy testified at the original hearing at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that Gary O’Mahony was playing for Pearse Celtic and the injured party was playing for a team from UCC where he was studying for his final year exams.
Det. Sgt. Murphy said: “It wasn’t a dirty game. In the second half, the injured party committed kind of a nasty foul on a player from Pearse Celtic. The defendant ran over and punched him once in the side of the face. He connected with him and knocked him unconscious.”
The injured party was removed to Cork University Hospital where he had concussion, loose teeth, damage to his right eye and had to have surgery to repair fractures to his cheekbone.
The detective said O’Mahony later presented at Togher garda station and effectively put his hands up and said he had punched the other man. The defendant made this admission without requiring legal advice and said that his actions were unacceptable.
Gary O’Mahony, 28, has been suspended from playing soccer for three years as a result of the assault. He also gathered €2,300 for the injured party.
In a victim impact statement, the injured party said the assault had a significant impact on him physically and emotionally and that he missed out on a series of job interviews because of his injuries and these could not be re-scheduled.
He also said that he believed the grade he achieved in his finals was lower than he had hoped and he attributed this to the fallout from his injuries.
He was also at a financial loss as he said that his health insurer refused to pay for his medical care because it involved a third party.
Defence barrister, Donal O’Sullivan, said: “Obviously, my client did a very wrong thing on the day. It was something he should not have been involved in. It was one blow but unfortunately, it was a very full blow. It came to court quickly because of my client’s attitude to it. He has done his best in terms of compensation.”
Judge Gerard O’Brien said it was a salutary lesson that one blow could change someone’s life and could have had even more serious consequences. The judge said he was impressed by the victim impact statement which was measured and not over the top.
He took account of the defendant’s plea of guilty, his remorse and other factors and after hearing all the evidence he gave him the benefit of a dismissal under the Probation of Offenders Act.
That dismissal has now been replaced with a suspended 18-month sentence.