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Tuesday 27 September 2016

No jail for thug who bit off ear in attack at Supermacs

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Attacker David Fitzgerald (25)
Attacker David Fitzgerald (25)

A MAN who bit 40pc of a student's ear off in an unprovoked attack at a fast food outlet, has avoided going to jail.

David Fitzgerald (25), of Lynwood Park, Ballysimon, Limerick, claimed he had no recollection of the vicious attack he carried out on Christopher Hartigan (22) until he was shown CCTV footage.

The victim - a final-year student at the University of Limerick - was left seriously disfigured after he was attacked in Supermacs, O'Connell Street, Limerick, on April 12, 2013.

Limerick Circuit Court heard Mr Hartigan had been socialising with friends and was queuing for food in Supermacs at around 2am, when he dropped some money on the ground.

As he bent down to pick it up he accidentally brushed off the accused who was standing beside him in the queue.

Fitzgerald then threatened the 22 year-old warning him: "If you do that again I'll kill you."

Mr Hartigan described feeling a mouth on his ear, instant pain and then seeing blood before he realised part of his ear had been bitten completely off.

The court heard the accused, who spat the ear part on the ground afterwards, was clearly identifiable from CCTV footage of the unprovoked attack.

Following his arrest, Fitzgerald identified himself on the footage but said he had no recollection of what happened.

drinking

He told gardai he had been drinking with friends earlier that day before attending Limerick Racecourse following which he travelled into the city where he continued drinking.

After being shown the CCTV footage of the assault Fitzgerald admitted full responsibility and expressed his disgust and sincere remorse for his behaviour.

A medical report from a consultant in plastic surgery confirmed Mr Fitzgerald had suffered significant tissue loss, serious disfigurement and that 40pc of his right ear had been bitten off in the assault.

Judge Tom O'Donnell was told the injured party, who is studying, Music Media and Performance Technology at UCL, suffered severe psychological and emotional impact as a result of the assault.

The court heard the accused man's father is unemployed but his wife, who recently retired, was willing to offer her €15,000 retirement package as compensation to the victim.

Before imposing sentence Judge O'Donnell said this was a "totally unprovoked and unacceptable assault which cannot and should not be tolerated in a civilised society".

Taking into account Mr Fitzgerald's previous good character, the offer of compensation, and the fact he was considered at low risk of re-offending, Judge O'Donnell imposed a three-year jail term which he suspended for three years.

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