Jail threat hangs over man who pleaded guilty to Kildare GAA club assault

One-punch attack leaves victim scarred and struggling with sleep, court hears

Leader reporter


Leader reporter



Jail threat hangs over man who pleaded guilty to Kildare GAA club assault

Naas courthouse

“You will be going to jail. The question is how long,” Judge Desmond Zaidan told a man who pleaded guilty to assault causing harm at Kilcock GAA club.

Gavin Byrne (22), of 1264 Highfield Park, Kilcock, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to another man, by punching him at Kilcock GAA club on February 2 2015.

At Naas District Court on July 4, the court was told that when the injured party was leaving the club, Mr Byrne followed him and punched him.

Judge Desmond Zaidan was also told that others, who were not before the Court, assaulted the injured party on the ground.

Judge Zaidan read the victim impact statement and said the case was “very serious” and “nasty”.

In his statement, the 23-year-old victim wrote about receiving scars to his face and his lip. He said he had thought that Mr Byrne was being nice as he approached him and the punch was unexpected. It was cowardly, said Judge Zaidan.

There was damage to the injured man’s teeth, the judge noted from the report.

The statement said that the injured party now struggles with sleep and did not get out much because of his appearance.

He felt people were staring at him because of his face and he was having constant trouble with his life.

He wrote that he was suffering from anxiety and did not trust people.

He said that he had always been intimidated by Byrne, and Byrne had picked on him before.

Judge Zaidan said the assault and the follow up assault amounted to “mob” behaviour.

Garda Inspector John Costello described the assault as “senseless.”

Barry Powderly, solicitor, representing Mr Byrne, said he was not downplaying the seriousness of the assault. Mr Byrne, he said, was pleading guilty to one punch and the issue had begun earlier in the evening following an assault on Mr Byrne’s brother. “He (Mr Byrne) is personally on the hook for everything. He understands that.”

Judge Zaidan said “something could have gone horribly wrong.”

Mr Powderly said Mr Byrne was “ashamed” of the incident.

The judge said that Mr Byrne knew that his friends were boasting about having knocked the injured party out by the assault. “You would think they would have been worried sick. What is their mentality?” he asked.

Mr Powderly said Mr Byrne, an apprentice carpenter who earned €400 a week, had never been in trouble before.

He (Mr Byrne) had €500 in compensation for the injured party.

The judge asked Mr Powderly why he should not send Mr Byrne to prison.

He also suggested that he remand Mr Byrne in custody for a week.

The case was adjourned briefly, during which Mr Byrne spent some time in the Courthouse jail section, before being called for a second time.

When it resumed, Mr Powderly said that Mr Byrne has been in custody for a couple of hours and did not like it.

Judge Zaidan said that he would adjourn the case further. “This is awful stuff. The possibility of a sentence is real,” he said.

Judge Zaidan described the €500 compensation from Mr Byrne offer as an insult.

Mr Powderly asked that the matter be adjourned until later in the year to come up with more compensation.

Judge Zaidan, adjourning the matter until November 7 next, said: “You will be going to jail. The question is how long.”