Man jailed for unprovoked assault on writer in Cork city which significantly changed injured party's life 

Man jailed for unprovoked assault on writer in Cork city which significantly changed injured party's life 

Mark McConnell, a 25-year-old Donegal man living in Ballyphehane, Cork, has been jailed for three and a half years for the unprovoked assault on Brian Whelan.

A short story writer due to give a reading at Cork’s international short story festival had his life turned upside down when an attacker knocked him unconscious with an unprovoked blow in Cork city.

The injured party was also planning to use his Master’s degree in Asian studies to teach in Japan but as a result of the attack that left him seriously injured he has only left his home six times since it happened in September 2019.

Mark McConnell, a 25-year-old Donegal man living in Ballyphehane, Cork, has been jailed for three and a half years for the unprovoked assault on Brian Whelan.

McConnell who had been living at 117 Pearse Road, Ballyphehane, Cork, pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm to Mr Whelan on September 15 2019 at Winthrop Street, Cork.

Garda Conor Cronin said the accused was not known to the victim and he left the scene after he attacked Mr Whelan leaving him seriously injured. 

Garda Cronin said it was only when street CCTV capturing McConnell was circulated through the RTÉ Crimecall programme that a number of members of the public identified him. He is originally from Donegal and was working in construction in Cork.

When questioned he made full admissions and said he lost his temper following a brief conversation with the injured party.

“He showed a small degree of remorse during interview in relation to the injured party, Mr Whelan who is 42 years old and from Ballincollig. Mr Whelan has a Masters in Asian Studies. He was due to be published and give a reading at the Cork Short Story Festival. His life has altered significantly since,” Garda Cronin said.

Mr Whelan said in the course of his victim impact statement, “I hope my attacker will not do to anyone else what he did to me.”

On the night in question, the defendant and the injured party talked briefly on Winthrop Street and the defendant turned to walk away but suddenly turned back and boxed him in the face causing him to lose consciousness.

Emmet Boyle defence barrister said of McConnell, “He accepted without demur his involvement (in the assault). He entered a plea of guilty at the earliest opportunity.” 

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, “This a very sad case. This young man who was full of hope and achievement looking forward to foreign parts to teach English and had prizes for writing, is standing talking to the accused when the accused suddenly and without any lead-up, strikes him a vicious blow which causes the victim catastrophic injuries.

“He was functioning at a high level and he now is in a very compromised and uncomfortable position.

“This is nothing to do with drink. This is to do with the accused losing his temper and striking an innocent man on the public street. The injured party had no opportunity to protect himself.” 

The judge imposed a sentence of five and a half years and suspended the last two years of that sentence.

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