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Soldier gashed victim's face in asylum hostel canteen attack

AN Algerian soldier living in a Dublin asylum seekers' hostel inflicted facial injuries on another resident when he punched him because he would not let him into the canteen.

Mohammed Tamersit (27) was given a three-month suspended sentence for the assault on the man who was having his dinner at the time.

The attack happened at a city centre hostel where the accused had been living after fleeing Algeria because of persecution there.

Suspending the sentence for a year, Judge Conal Gibbons said it was not acceptable that somebody who came to Ireland to seek refuge should end up "on the floor with a mouth full of someone else's fist".

Dublin District Court heard the injuries the victim suffered included a gash to his face. Tamersit, with an address at Hatch Hall, at Hatch Street, in the south city pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing harm to the victim at the hostel on November 24, 2009.

Garda Damien McCarthy told Dublin District Court the victim had been finishing his meal in the canteen when the Tamersit went to a locked door and asked to be let in.

When he eventually got inside, there was a verbal altercation between them and Tamersit struck the victim once in the face with his fist.





Swelling

The victim came to Harcourt Terrace Garda Station, complained he had been assaulted and gave a description of the culprit. There was a gash and swelling to his cheek at the time.

Garda McCarthy viewed CCTV footage and found Tamersit in the foyer of the hostel. The court heard he would have had the opportunity to flee but did not. He was co-operative with gardai and made admissions after his arrest.

Tamersit maintained that when he entered the canteen he walked past the victim and touched him by accident, causing him to drop a glass of water he had been drinking. He claimed the victim told him to "f*** off", repeated this three times and spat at him.

"I lost my temper with him and I hit him," the accused admitted.

Judge Gibbons said neither the garda nor anybody else saw the alleged spit.

"He wanted to get into the room and this unfortunate man was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Judge Gibbons said. "The reason he is giving for losing his temper doesn't make any sense."

The court heard the defendant had undergone surgery after being stabbed in April 2010 and suffered from depression.

He had been in the Algerian army for four years and came to Ireland two-and-a-half years ago having fled his home because of persecution.

He had no previous convictions.

aphelan@herald.ie