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Hammer wielding attacker has sentence suspended on appeal

Hammer wielding attacker has sentence suspended on appeal

A man who received a Gaisce Award from President Michael D Higgins two weeks before he was jailed for a hammer assault has been given a suspended sentence for turning his life around following a successful appeal.

David Emerson (31), with an address at Dromheath Drive, Mulhuddart, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to a man at Kilshane Cross, Finglas on June 21, 2012.

He was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment by Judge Martin Nolan on July 12, 2013 but was subsequently granted bail pending an appeal.

Emerson successfully appealed against the severity of his sentence today, with the Court of Appeal holding that he had turned his life around to such a significant extent that the Circuit Court judge erred in ruling out suspending a part of his sentence.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said Emerson was found in the kitchen of a premises possessed with a hammer and screwdriver when he was confronted.

He ran out of the house and tried to get away but was cornered and hit the injured party on the head with hammer. A number of people succeeded in holding Emerson, who was intoxicated at the time, until gardaí arrived at the scene.

His barrister, Michael Bowman SC, said Emerson had previously been coming to court “nonplussed” but something changed within his psyche. He came to court to be sentenced with “pride in his appearance” and had completely reversed his two-fisted approach to the world.

Emerson had engaged with the Fr Peter McVerry Trust and had received a Gaisce award from the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, Mr Bowman said.

Fr McVerry was tenaciously committed to Emerson, Mr Bowman said, and his placement in a stable home environment "worked wonders".

He he had been a “menace to society” in the past, according to the sentencing judge, but seemed to have completely reformed himself. The judge went on to say that society required serious assaults to be punished in an appropriate fashion.

Mr Justice Sheehan said the sentencing judge erred when he forclosed on the possibility of suspending part of Emerson's sentence.

He said Emerson had turned his life around in such a significant way that he was now a law abiding citizen, a good father and good partner.

He occasionally worked with his brother and now has the support of his family which he had lost as a result of his criminal offending, the judge said.

When a person turned their life around to the extent Emerson had, Mr Justice Sheehan said the person, their family and society all benefitted.

It would be extremely damaging to him and would put at risk the progress he had made to return him to prison at this point where he could reengage with people he had successfully parted company with, Mr Justice Sheehan said.

Fortunately for Emerson, the level of harm caused to the injured party was described as relatively minor, the judge said.

Mr Justice Sheehan, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, resenteced him to two years imprisonment with the two years suspended as of today's/yesterday's date.

He was required to enter into a good behaviour bond for two years. After he undertook to be so bound, Emerson turned to the court and said “thanks very much, Judge”.