Saturday 26 May 2018

Chef who was slashed in burnt steaks row thought he would die

Neville Fitzpatrick (pictured) was slashed by fellow chef Songwut Sanban after a heated row
Neville Fitzpatrick (pictured) was slashed by fellow chef Songwut Sanban after a heated row
Neville Fitzpatrick was slashed by fellow chef Songwut Sanban (pictured) after a heated row

A chef who was slashed across the wrist by a colleague in a row over burnt steaks thought he was going to die.

Dubliner Neville Fitzpatrick (47) told Ennis Circuit Court about the "vicious assault" by Songwut Sanban (42), from Thailand, in the kitchen of the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon.

Mr Fitzpatrick, with 30 years' experience, has not worked as a chef since the knife attack in which he suffered a broken left wrist and had one tendon severed and another severely damaged.

Gda Mary Fahy told the court it was Mr Fitzpatrick's belief that Sanban "had sabotaged the steaks" that were ordered by a group of golfers on the night of September 11, 2014.


Sanban pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Mr Fitzpatrick.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Fitzpatrick said he was sure an artery had been severed.

"I remember the feeling of panic and grasping my wrist trying to stop the flow of blood," he said.

"Kitchens can be high-pressure and arguments can erupt out of nowhere. I've seen many verbal arguments in my profession, even some that became physical, but I've never seen a chef attack another with a knife.

"Even when we hand a knife to a colleague, we are trained to pass it correctly. In fact, if a knife is pointed for a brief moment in jest, the chef is quickly told not to do this."

Mr Fitzpatrick said he forgives Sanban, but "he brought the profession to a point so low that he attacked another with the tools that define our career".

Stephen Coughlan, for the State, said the declining relationship between the two "had explosive consequences".

Waiter Killian O'Grady said in a statement read out in court that the pair began to trade insults, with Mr Fitzpatrick telling his Thai colleague "that his mother was a lap dancer".

Mr O'Grady said Sanban muttered stuff back in Thai, and when asked by Mr Fitzpatrick to say in English what he was saying, Sanban said he would "rip his throat out".

Mr Fitzpatrick asked for Sanban's help with a couple of late orders. However, when he saw that four steaks ordered by golfers were burnt, he picked up the docket for them and shoved it into Mr Sanban's face.

Mr O'Grady said he was sick of their behaviour and went out to tell the golfers their steaks would be late.

When he returned, he saw Mr Fitzpatrick with his fist raised and Sanban had a large knife in his right hand "and slashed down on Neville's raised arm".

Gda Fahy agreed with Judge Gerald Keys that there was an element of provocation, but nothing to justify Sanban using the knife.

Counsel for Mr Sanban, Anthony Sammon, asked that his client not be jailed.

A father of an eight-month-old baby, Mr Sanban offered €2,000 to Mr Fitzpatrick in court. He refused it, saying he would like to see justice done.

Judge Keys remanded Mr Sanban on continuing bail for sentence on July 25.

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