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No jail for woman who left clubber blind in one eye with 'high rise' stiletto kick

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Jennifer Ziemann outside Ennis Court yesterday where she was given a suspended sentence for assault causing harm

Jennifer Ziemann outside Ennis Court yesterday where she was given a suspended sentence for assault causing harm

Jennifer Ziemann outside Ennis Court yesterday where she was given a suspended sentence for assault causing harm

A woman whose "high rise" kick with a stiletto heel left her victim blinded in her left eye has walked free from court.

Judge Gerald Keys imposed a three-and-a-half year suspended jail term on Jennifer Ziemann (26) for assault causing harm to Katie Kenneally (21) at the Queen's nightclub in Ennis on May 6, 2018.

Judge Keys told Ennis Circuit Court that Ziemann's kick "had the element of a defensive kick in this fracas".

He said he was of the view that she "did not intend to cause serious harm to Katie Kenneally on the night".

"The CCTV of the incident does not establish that Ms Ziemann's conduct was reckless within the legal definition," he added.

Lunge

CCTV footage previously played in court showed how the two women had got into a row in the outdoor area of the nightclub and both ended up on the ground.

A bouncer grabbed Ziemann, of Parnell Street, Ennis, while others took hold of Ms Kenneally and the pair were separated.

However, when Ms Kenneally made a lunge for Ziemann, the accused kicked out with her stiletto, resulting in Ms Kenneally's "catastrophic" injury.

The incident, described by the judge as "relatively minor", lasted a number of seconds.

The life-changing injury sustained by Ms Kenneally came just under four weeks before she lost her younger brother, Jack (15) in a double drowning in a disused quarry.

Junior Cert students and Ennis rugby club U-15 team-mates Jack and Shay Moloney (15) both drowned on May 31, 2018, days before the two were due to start their exams.

In his judgment, Judge Keys said that in an interview with gardai, Ziemann described her kick as the two were being separated as "a high rise kick".

Ms Ziemann told gardai: "I'm not one to back down."

Judge Keys told both women "neither of you showed any restraint and attempted to re-engage" in the row.

Ziemann paid over €3,000 compensation in court yesterday to Ms Kenneally.

Judge Keys said the aggravating factors in the case were Ziemann confronting her victim in an aggressive manner; excessive alcohol; 13 previous convictions; inflicting a serious injury; and the adverse effects on Ms Kenneally's career and lifestyle.

He said the mitigating actors were that Ziemann had pleaded guilty; fully co-operated with gardai; had shown remorse; had apologised for her actions; feels fully responsible for the injuries sustained; and that the consequences of what happened were not intended.

"The number of assault cases involving alcohol is on the increase," Judge Keys added.

"If one had foresight to see what would happen in this case, I have no doubt this fracas would never have occurred in the first instance.

"If anything is to be learned for the future, kicking, punching, hitting someone with a glass, with any object, can have disastrous consequences even though they are not intended.

"I have great sympathy for the victim, Ms Kenneally, and I sincerely hope that you can adapt as best you can to the loss of your eye."

Expensive

Addressing the two women, the judge added: "This is a very, very expensive lesson for both of you."

In her victim impact statement previously read out in court, Ms Kenneally said she constantly worries about losing sight in her other eye.

She stated that her vision in her left eye "will never come back and I find that very hard to deal with".

Ms Kenneally said the assault changed her life forever in more ways than one.

"I struggle to look at myself in the mirror as it's a constant reminder of what happened that night," she added.

Ms Kenneally stated that she now suffers from anxiety and panic attacks.

Ziemann signed a bond to keep the peace yesterday and Judge Keys told her: "You're free to go.