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Thursday 22 November 2018

Thugs who savagely attacked 'vulnerable' man for €4 are jailed

Patrick Sweeney admitted he was ‘intoxicated’ at the time. Photo: North West Newspix
Patrick Sweeney admitted he was ‘intoxicated’ at the time. Photo: North West Newspix
Stephen Scott was also jailed

Two men have been jailed for a savage attack on a "vulnerable" man who they beat and kicked - before robbing him of only €4.

Judge John Aylmer said victim Daniel Byrne was in genuine fear for his life when he was set upon in an unprovoked assault outside a Co Donegal supermarket.

Thugs Patrick Sweeney (20) and Stephen Scott (25) were sentenced to a total of almost six years in prison after admitting chasing Mr Byrne, dragging him to the ground and beating and robbing him at Simpson's Supermarket in Letterkenny.

Judge Aylmer said CCTV footage of the incident made for shocking viewing and added that it was only by extraordinary chance that Mr Byrne (53)survived with no major injuries.

Sweeney and Scott are seen pulling Mr Byrne to the ground before 'dancing' on him and kicking him repeatedly for around 40 seconds.

They then go through his pockets, take his money and casually walk away.

Letterkenny Circuit Court heard how the pair had been drinking heavily on the evening they attacked and robbed Mr Byrne, at just after 9pm on October 28 last year.

He eventually managed to get up off the ground and was helped by shocked passers-by.

Garda Frank McDaid told the court that a member of the public had contacted Letterkenny Garda Station to say a man was being mugged. Officers arrived five minutes later and although they found blood on the ground, there was no victim there.

Gda McDaid went to the supermarket the next day to collect CCTV footage and happened to come across Mr Byrne, who told him he had been attacked the previous night.

He had not contacted gardai and did not visit the hospital after the assault.

"I didn't want to waste their time, and I'm OK overall," he told officers. Gardai took him to Letterkenny University Hospital for treatment the day after the attack.

A statement from Dr Adam Leslie Howard said the victim had received multiple injuries, including wounds on his head, arms and shoulders, after being struck multiple times.

Binge

Lawyer Fiona Crawford told the court her client Scott, of Meadowbank, Letterkenny, had severe issues with alcohol and drugs, was due to start a rehabilitation course days after this incident and had gone on a drink and drugs binge.

Scott apologised to his victim from the witness stand.

Peter Nolan, barrister for Sweeney, of Birchill Upper, Letterkenny, admitted the CCTV footage shown in court was truly appalling.

"The day we all stop being shocked by footage like that is the day we all need to give up," he said. He added that his client also had a drink problem.

Sweeney also apologised in court to Mr Byrne, who was not at the hearing and had declined to give a victim impact statement.

Sweeney said: "What happened to Daniel Byrne should not have happened to anyone. I'd like to say sorry. It should never have happened.

"When I saw it, I felt guilty because I know what happened should never happen to anyone.

"I have remorse. On that night, I knew I had done something, but I was heavily intoxicated, and that's why I handed myself in. I have trouble sleeping, thinking about what I done.

"The only time I don't think about it is when I'm studying in school."

Judge Aylmer said the attack, which showed an "extreme and dangerous level of violence in a sustained manner" deserved sentences of five years in prison.

However, he had to take into consideration the guilty plea and the fact that Sweeney had no previous convictions.

He jailed Scott for three years and four months, backdated the sentence until when he went into custody last November and suspended the final 16 months of the sentence.

He then jailed Sweeney for two-and-a-half years, also backdated the sentence until last November and suspended the final 12 months.

The men's families waved at them as they were led away.

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