Luas driver avoids jail for stabbing ex-girlfriend's former partner

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A Luas driver who stabbed his ex-girlfriend's former partner in the neck with a blade has been spared a jail term.

The court heard that Mark Nolan (46) was in a "state of grief" as his eight-year-old son had died of cancer about two months previously. He was also intoxicated and on anti-depressants.

Nolan, of Parnell Close, Dublin 15, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Luke Kelly causing him harm on December 12, 2015. He has no previous convictions.

Garda Brian Concannon told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting that Mr Kelly had come to the assistance of his former partner when she arrived at his home to tell him she was having a verbal dispute with Nolan and he wouldn't leave her house. She was living across the road from Nolan in Parnell Close.

Her relationship with Nolan had ended four years previously, while her relationship with Mr Kelly, with whom she had two children, had come to an end in 2005.

Mr Kelly arrived on the scene and told Nolan to stay away but the man squared up to him and struck him twice in the side of the neck with a blade. The first blow caused a cut to the side of the victim's neck which later needed three stitches, while the second resulted in only a graze.

Judge Martin Nolan told Nolan he was "a very lucky man" and it was "fortunate for everybody" that Mr Kelly's injuries had not been more serious.

"Most times when people use knives they end up going to prison," the judge commented.

He said it was clear on the night that Nolan was intoxicated and "carrying burdens at the time" and described it as a "tragic time in his life".

Judge Nolan acknowledged Nolan's early plea, remorse and long work history before he sentenced him to 18 months in prison which he suspended in full. He ordered that Nolan pay €5,000 over to Mr Kelly within the next year.

"If he doesn't accept that money the court will dispose of it. This is not compensatory but a punishment to remind you that what you did was totally wrong," Judge Nolan said.

Gda Concannon agreed with Fiona Murphy BL, defending, that Nolan had tragically lost his eight-year-old son to cancer about eight weeks before the assault.

He accepted he was in "a very bad way" and had been on anti-depressants.

Gda Concannon further accepted that Nolan had made a voluntary statement at the station in which he claimed he had been somewhat apprehensive of Mr Kelly's anticipated arrival at the house and had armed himself with the blade.

Ms Murphy submitted to the court that Nolan's actions were "motivated to some extent by fear" and said "he wasn't thinking straight at all". She said he had €1,500 in court for Mr Kelly but she had been informed that the victim doesn't want the money.

Sonya McLean