Man who struck victim in eye with glass was given 'extremely lenient' sentence

Jordan O'Donovan
Jordan O'Donovan

A first-time offender will not serve any extra jail time for a nightclub "glassing" assault, despite an appeal by prosecutors which raised "significant issues".

Jordan O'Donovan (20), with an address at Willow Bank, Fairhill, Cork had pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm to another man in the Savoy nightclub on Patrick Street on December 27, 2013.

He was sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to three years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin on December 15, 2014.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had sought a review of Jordan O'Donovan's sentence on grounds that it was "unduly lenient".

However, the Court of Appeal refused the DPP's application holding that although lenient, the balance of the sentence was not so wrong as to render it "unduly lenient".

Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham said a verbal exchange in the smoking area of the nightclub developed into a phsycial altercation.

O'Donovan struck the injured party with a glass he was holding. As a result, the victim suffered a very serious eye injury and despite numerous operations he had not recovered full sight in the eye at the time of sentencing.

The assault had a huge impact on his life and his family. He had been involved in sports but had not returned to these pursuits fearing they would put his eye at risk, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

Counsel for the DPP, Donal O'Sullivan BL, submitted that the Circuit Court judge erred in failing to state where on the scale he placed the offence and the ultimate custodial element was "significantly out of kilter" for an offence of its kind.

He said O'Donovan was like any other young, first-time offender to come before the courts. "The circumstances he was in were not wholly exceptional" to justify the ultimate sentence, he submitted.

O'Donovan was 18 at the time of the offence, had recently completed a second-year apprenticeship as a fitter and had no previous convictions.

Detective Garda Colm Greenway accepted that O'Donovan had "genuine remorse" for the incident and whenever the detective garda contacted O'Donovan or his family, "he was always asked about how the injured party was progressing", Mr Justice Birmingham said.

His barrister, Sinead Behan BL, told the court that her client's mitigating factors included his young age, lack of previous convictions, genuine remorse, his guilty plea, engagement with gardai, good sporting involvement, good working history, positive probation report and positive employment reports.

An offer of €6,000 compensation from O'Donovan was not accepted by the injured party, the court heard.

Mr Justice Birmingham it was "beyond any question a serious offence". The consequences for the victim, who was enjoying a night out with friends over Christmas, have been "horrendous".

As this case had shown, the use of a glass or bottle in an assault is very likely to result in serious or permanent injury. A custodial sentence was "inevitable", Mr Justice Birmingham said

Even allowing for the many mitigating factors, the sentence imposed was "undoubtedly a lenient one". However, the DPP had not established that it represented a substantial departure from the norm and was therefore "unduly lenient", the judge said.

In those circumstances, and having regard also to the fact that Mr O'Donovan had served his sentence and has returned to living and working in the community for the past ten months, the court refused the application for a review of sentence.

O'Donovan breathed a sigh of relief as the judgment concluded.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the case had raised “significant issues” when reserving judgment last week.

Ruaidhrí Giblin