A former Irish boxing champion who broke a man's jaw in three places after attacking him in a bar has avoided a prison sentence.
Leon Gallagher assaulted Andrew Gallagher in a Co Donegal bar after some playful 'shadow-boxing' turned nasty.
Gallagher (23), a father-of-one, appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court having previously paid his victim €2,000.
Judge John Aylmer said if Gallagher had another €5,000 in court then he would suspend a jail sentence of two years which he had initially imposed for the assault at McKelvey’s Bar in Ballybofey on December 16th, 2019.
The court had heard the men knew each other as they had boxed together as teenagers.
Leon Gallagher lost his temper during what was initially a bit of horseplay and claimed that Andrew Gallagher had punched his brother.
CCTV footage showed the accused getting the victim in a headlock and delivering a number of blows.
Andrew Gallagher was rushed to hospital and had to receive extensive treatment.
In his victim impact statement, he said his jaw had been “throbbing” after being struck by Leon Gallagher. “I was in very severe pain. I couldn’t open or close my jaw,” he said.
He said the pain was worse in the cold weather and that his entire Christmas and that of his family had been ruined as a result of the assault.
Andrew Gallagher, who is a social care worker, is also a sheep farmer and works part-time in a bar. He had to take weeks off work and lost an estimated €7,550 in earnings including having to pay someone to look after his sheep. He said he had been a sociable young man, but the attack had affected him mentally.
The accused, with an address at Cuilara, Belcara, Castlebar, Co Mayo, but who is originally from Ballybofey, had brought €2,000 in compensation to court.
He apologised from the witness stand to his victim who was sitting at the back of the courtroom.
“I’m terribly sorry and hopefully we can become friends again after this. I never meant it to happen,” he said.
His barrister, Ms Fiona Crawford, BL, said alcohol had been a factor and stressed that her client had contacted the victim the following day by Facebook to apologise and said he would sort any medical bills he had.
She said her client had been an international boxer for Ireland but had to give up the sport after he broke his hand and had got into trouble.
However, he was a plasterer by trade and hoped to return to work shortly. He was now in a stable relationship in Co Mayo and had become a father with his partner in January of this year. He was now in counselling to address his alcohol abuse.
'Very serious offence'
Passing sentence Judge Aylmer described the assault as a “very serious offence” which he placed in the mid-range of such offences.
"He was a member of the Irish boxing team. These fists are fairly lethal weapons in these circumstances. A sportsman engaged in boxing knows that it's imperative that he not use his fists other than in the pursuit of his sporting activities," said Judge Aylmer.
Barrister Fiona Crawford told the court that Leon Gallagher now had the €5,000 in court.
Judge Aylmer suspended the two-year sentence and ordered Gallagher to go under the direction of the Probation Services and be of good behaviour for 12 months.
He is also to abstain from alcohol for the next 12 months.