The parents of a 32-year-old man who was seriously injured from a single punch in Clonakilty – and died as he began to recover – embraced the man who punched him as he was given a suspended jail term.
The family of the late Micheál O’Neill said he had forgiven Aidan Coyle for assaulting him and they added:
"We forgive this man’s actions and hope we can all find peace to move forward from this.”
Aidan Coyle who is in his 40s and now lives in Gulladuff, Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, wept at Cork Circuit Criminal Court as he was given a fully suspended three-year suspended sentence.
The deceased man’s parents were present in court for the sentencing and they embraced Mr Coyle as they all left the courtroom together.
In the victim impact statement the family said they wanted Micheál’s voice to be heard.
"Micheál felt no anger or malice towards him. He felt enough had happened and just wanted both (himself and Mr Coyle) to be able to move forward and put this in the past – that was the type of man Micheál was, he was a good man.”
Detective Sergeant Kevin Long said Micheál O’Neill was in De Barra’s in Clonakilty on the night of March 10 2017. At one stage he was standing on a stool to see the musician who was playing and a security man asked him to get down.
Outside the premises the security man was talking to him when Aidan Coyle approached and there was some exchange of words between him and Mr O’Neill. Mr Coyle threw a single punch at him because he perceived some threat to himself. Mr O’Neill’s head struck the footpath.
Mr Coyle gave the injured party assistance and put him in the recovery position and gave his details to Garda James Keane who arrived on the scene.
To aid his recovery in hospital Mr O’Neill had to be put into an induced coma for two weeks and kept in the CUH for a further four weeks. The family said he went on a long road of recovery with the support of his parents. However, two years after the incident outside De Barra’s he died at home on March 15 2019.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said he had to deal with the assault causing serious harm as a separate matter from the fact that the injured party later died. The judge said that while the family had expressed their view the court had to determine the issue.
In doing so the judge said there was no animus between the two parties.
"His parents have spoken to the defendant and they take a like view. They accept the genuineness of Coyle’s remorse and accept the turmoil he is going through.”