Man jailed for "violent, cowardly" assault of Dale Creighton

Jailed: James O'Brien following his arrest
Jailed: James O'Brien following his arrest

A man has been sentenced at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin today to two and a half years in prison, with eighteen months suspended, for assaulting 20-year-old Dale Creighton, who died in hospital after he was attacked in Tallaght on New Year's Day.

James O'Brien (22) of The Mill, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty last June (8th) to the assault, causing harm, of Dale Creighton on New Year's Day on Saint Dominic's Road, Tallaght.

Seven other Dubliners in their 20s are also charged in connection with Mr Creighton's death. 

At today's sentence hearing, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy told the court that, on New Year's Eve last year, Mr Creighton was attending a house party, which he left at 3am. 

The court heard that Mr Creighton split up from his friends and that his intention was to return to the house party.

The court also heard that a larger group of people were at the Plaza, where "considerable alcohol was consumed." 

Allegations were made that somebody stole a woman's handbag and telephone, the court heard. "They took the view that Mr Creighton had involvement," Ms Justice Kennedy said.

Mr Creighton was chased and caught up with on a footbridge, where he was assaulted by people other than Mr O'Brien, the court heard.

The court further heard that Mr O'Brien arrived in a car and that his actions were seen on CCTV last week in court. 

"It is crystal clear he punched and kicked Mr Creighton while he was lying prone on the ground," Ms Justice Kennedy said.

Mr O'Brien punched Mr Creighton nine times, the court heard, before leaving the scene.

Mr Creighton died later in hospital and Mr O'Brien was arrested. 

When asked by gardai about injuries to his hand, Mr O'Brien said that during an argument in his house he punched two holes in his bedroom door, the court heard.

Mr O'Brien also told gardai that, on the night of the assault, he was driving home to a mate's house and got out of the car to see what was happening, Ms Justice Kennedy told the court.

"Clearly, both answers are inaccurate in the context of the evidence," Ms Justice Kennedy said. 

She further stated that the assault lasted one and a half minutes.

The court heard that Mr Paul Greene SC, defending, expressed remorse last week on behalf of Mr O'Brien and that his probation report described him as "a moderate risk of reoffending." 

The court also heard that Mr O'Brien comes from "a stable family background" and has "absented himself from Tallaght in an effort to rehabilitate himself."

"It was a violent, cowardly attack by Mr O'Brien," Ms Justice Kennedy said.

In assessing whether his remorse is genuine, Ms Justice Kennedy considered his guilty plea.

She also said that the genuineness of his remorse is "tempered by the inaccurate information he gave to gardai regarding his injuries and his presence at the scene."

The mitigating factors in considering Mr O'Brien's sentence were his guilty plea, his remorse, his lack of previous convictions and his efforts to rehabilitate, the court heard.

Daniel Hickey