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Youths who attacked retiree gets sentence reduced

Youths who attacked retiree gets sentence reduced

Three youths who caused serious harm to a 59-year-old retiree in a “vicious, concerted attack” in Tralee three-and-a-half years ago, have had their jail terms cut on appeal.

Roman Hricko (20) and Miroslav Hricko (19), both of Market Court, Main Street, Tralee and David Hanak (21) of Hawthorn Drive, Monavalley, Tralee, had pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm to Donal O'Mahoney at Ard Carraig, Caherslee in the town on August 26, 2012.

They were each sentenced to seven years imprisonment by Mr Justice Carroll Moran on July 29, 2014.

The men successfully appealed against the severity of their jail terms today with the Court of Appeal holding that portions of their sentences ought to have suspended in order to incentivise rehabilitation.

Giving judgment Mr Justice George Birmingham said the injured party - a 59-year-old retired gentleman - had been socialising with a friend when they returned to their homes in a quiet housing estate.

They were approached by a group of youths and viscously assaulted, the judge said. 

Mr O'Mahoney received blows and kicks to the head knocking him unconsciousness and he lost the sight in his left eye. 

The impact on him was “horrendous”, the judge said, with life changing impacts that will continue for all of his days.

His friend also suffered significant injuries – a fractured jaw and cheekbone requiring the realignment of teeth.

Miroslav Hricko, who was the only one of the men to face charges on this assault, pleaded guilty and was given a concurrent three year sentence.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the three men had been at a house party where they consumed large amounts of whiskey.

Their behaviour at the party was such that the homeowner asked them to leave.

Miroslav, who was 16-years-old at the time, Roman 17 and Hanack 18, were originally from the Czech Republic and had been living in Ireland for many years.

Miroslav Hricko was the youngest of those involved but also “the most violent”, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

Eyewitnesses suggested that David Hanak started the incident and Roman Hricko was engaged in punching as opposed to kicking.

No known motive has emerged, the judge said.

All three were fit and athletic and at least some had an involvement in weight training, martial arts or boxing, the judge said.

All three participated in a “vicious, concerted attack” and each was a full and willing participant.

The fact a group of young men combined together added an additional dimension of seriousness, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

They “weren't unknown” to the gardaí but had no previous convictions, he said.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the DPP that the assault was on the upper end of seriousness and merited a starting point of nine to 10 years before mitigation could be applied.

If they were somewhat older, Mr Justice Birmingham said questions which arose in their appeal would be straightforward.

He said the men's youth as well as their cooperation with gardaí, the absence of previous convictions and their remorse provided a basis for suspending a limited portion of their sentences in order to incentivise rehabilitation.

It would have been appropriate, he said, that there be an incentive for them not to reoffend.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would suspend the final 18 months of each of their sentences.

They were each required to enter into good behaviour bonds of €100 for two years post release.