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Saturday 24 August 2019

'Incredible Hulk' attacker loses her appeal against four-year jail term

Alice Byrne was compared to comic-book character the Incredible Hulk by her victim
Alice Byrne was compared to comic-book character the Incredible Hulk by her victim

A woman described as having "strength and rage" like "the Incredible Hulk" has lost an appeal against the severity of her sentence for attacking a patient outside a hospital.

Alice Byrne (44), of the Horizon Building, Royal Canal Park, Dublin 15, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Sarah Comer at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, on August 13, 2017.

She also pleaded guilty to trespass and criminal damage at Clonshaugh Road, Coolock on October 1, 2015, when she was said to have "directed" the smashing of windows and contents of a domestic dwelling with baseball bats.

Byrne was sentenced to four years' imprisonment with the final year suspended by Judge Pauline Codd on December 17 last year for the assault. The sentence was made consecutive to nine months' imprisonment for the trespass and criminal damage.

She lost an appeal against the severity of her sentence yesterday, with the Court of Appeal unable to identify any error in principle.

Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly said Ms Comer was having a cigarette outside the hospital with an acquaintance when Byrne launched a "ferocious and unprovoked" assault.

Punched

The injured party was kicked and punched in the stomach as Byrne kept kicking her while she lay in the foetal position, the judge said.

Ms Comer told gardai that Byrne was "like the Incredible Hulk in strength and rage" and the attack was worse than being "kicked by racehorses".

The green-skinned comic book character is known for his destructive tendencies.

A victim impact statement said that Ms Comer needed a number of stitches and now has nerve damage to the side of her face. Since the attack, she says she suffers both panic attacks and depression.

Her breast implants were affected by kicks she got to the chest during the assault. She has no feeling in her nose and upper lip, and has had to have two operations.

She said she has a permanently disfigured face.

Ms Justice Donnelly said Byrne had 21 previous convictions and was on bail at the time of the assault. She said the sentencing judge was right to select five years as the headline sentence, given the seriousness of the injuries and the ferocious nature of the assault.

It was true that Byrne had a difficult background, and had been the recipient herself of violence previously, the judge said.

However, Ms Justice Donnelly, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said the court could find no error in principle and the appeal was therefore dismissed.

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