An attacker who left his victim with a 15cm wound from his ear to his cheek in a “savage” slashing assault has been given a four-year prison sentence.
Jonathan Donovan (37) “savagely attacked” a man on a Dublin street for “reasons known only to himself”, Judge Martin Nolan told his sentence hearing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Donovan, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm of a man on Gardiner Street in Dublin city centre on February 13th, 2022.
He had been facing trial for the more serious offence of assault causing serious harm — which comes with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment — but last month the State accepted a guilty plea to the lesser charge.
The court heard the victim has been admitted to a psychiatric ward and there has been difficulty meeting with him or getting a victim impact statement.
In his statement to gardaí, the victim said he had no memory of the attack and only remembers waking up in the Mater Hospital with his face “ripped apart”. He suffered 10 injuries, including cuts to his chest resulting in internal bleeding which nearly caused his death.
Gardaí identified Donovan from CCTV footage captured in the area. After his arrest on the day after the attack, they tested blood found on his runners which matched the victim's DNA.
Analysis of his mobile phone found internet searches for “how to get blood off skin”, “stabbing Dublin city centre” and “stabbing Dublin”.
Detective Garda Gary Moore told prosecuting counsel that Donovan's 90 previous convictions include one in 2016 for assault causing serious harm and four other convictions for assault causing harm.
He also has convictions for assaulting a peace officer, criminal damage and carrying a firearm.
Karl Monaghan BL, defending, said a letter from his client stated: “I want to apologise to the victim and his family. I want this nightmare to be over for both of us.”
Counsel said Donovan was raised in difficult circumstances and there was evidence that he came to the attention of the courts at a very young age for truancy from school. He said he has spent significant portions of his life in custody.
Judge Nolan said the attack was vicious and that the defendant has a long history of vicious assaults. He said he savagely attacked the victim and slashed him in a most serious way, leaving the victim with a serious scar to his face.
Judge Nolan asked counsel if the court was entitled to disregard the usual benefit given for a guilty plea. He suggested to Mr Monahan that his client had already received the benefit of a plea by getting the original charge dropped down to the lower offence, which comes with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
“It was the closet to a plea deal as you can get. Are you not getting a double benefit?” he said.
Mr Monaghan said the court must still give credit for the guilty plea and Judge Nolan imposed a four-year term, backdated to February 2022 when Donovan went into custody for this.