Thug avoids jail after battering victim with crutch
A thug who beat a man about the head with a crutch because he believed he had just killed his brother has been given a suspended sentence.
James O'Connor (38) didn't see who delivered the fatal blow to his brother Gareth before he became involved in a violent attack described by eye-witnesses as "graphic" and "barbaric".
Prosecutor Diarmuid Collins told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court it was the State's case that Gareth started a row and was knocked out by a punch which proved fatal.
Garda Wayne Donnelly said no one has ever been charged with Gareth O'Connor's death.
Eyewitness accounts of James O'Connor's assault on the man described him "swinging his crutch like a golf club" and "using it as a weapon" to strike the victim to the head and face.
One person described O'Connor delivering blows as if he was "chopping wood".
O'Connor of Meile An Ri Road, Balgaddy Road, Dublin admitted assault causing harm at Cow's Lane, Temple Bar, on September 10, 2015. He also admitted a separate assault on another man at the same time
He further pleaded guilty to violent disorder at The Boardwalk, Bachelor's Walk, four hours earlier. The court heard that in this incident, one of O'Connor's group had urinated on a man sleeping on a bench and a row broke out.
The rest of O'Connor's group moved, and he was captured on CCTV footage swinging his crutch at the man and making contact with the back of his head. The victim was never identified, but CCTV footage of the attack allowed the State to prosecute the case.
Judge Cormac Quinn took into account O'Connor's guilty plea, full admission and co-operation and that he had been homeless and abusing substances.
He imposed concurrent sentences totalling two and a half years which he suspended in full on strict conditions.
Defence lawyer Keith Spencer said O'Connor's most recent previous conviction had been in 2010 and that these offences had been an "aberration" in terms of how he had been conducting himself since then.