'terrible mistake' | 

Brother of tragic Lynsey O'Brien who died in cruise ship fall avoids jail for punching man

Mr O'Brien moved to Australia "to escape the trauma of his past", his lawyer told the court this week.

Lynsey O'Brien

Alan Sherry

The lifelong impact of a death of a Dublin teenager who fell from a cruise ship in the Caribbean on her family was detailed in an Australian court last week.

Dean O'Brien avoided jail after a court heard how he punched a drunk man who had been threatening his friends and shouting anti-Irish abuse in a pub Down Under.

The court in Canberra heard that Dean O'Brien, whose sister Lynsey tragically died during a family holiday in the Caribbean in 2006, had stepped in to protect girls being abused by the man in the pub, but he shouldn't have taken the law into his own hands.

He walked free from the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court this week after a judge said he had acknowledged the error of his actions.

Mr O'Brien moved to Australia "to escape the trauma of his past", his lawyer told the court this week. "He made a terrible mistake here," he added.

The court heard he suffered serious hardship after Lynsey fell to her death from a cruise ship during a family holiday in 2006.

Mr O'Brien, Lynsey, their two sisters and their parents had been on the holiday when the tragic incident occurred.

Justice Michael Elkhaim noted in court this week that Lynsey's death led to the breakdown of O'Brien's family and also led to the suicide of her father Paul in 2013.

Dean O'Brien pictured at the bar in Australia

The court heard Mr O'Brien lives in Sydney, where he works as a carpenter and acts as a carer and companion to his sister who lives with bipolar disorder.

Mr O'Brien had gone out with pals to the Moby Dick Tavern in Canberra last July when a man unknown to him started harassing and threatening his friends.

The man told one woman he would "punch her head in" and called another woman a "slut" and a "c***" throughout the evening.

He threatened Mr O'Brien and his friends, shouting: "Come on you Irish c***s, I'll glass you," while holding a glass in his hand.

After the final threat Mr O'Brien punched the man, breaking his jaw and nose and knocking out some of his teeth.

CCTV of the incident showed Mr O'Brien punch the man twice in the side of the head before the victim fell to the ground hitting his head on a table on the way down.

Mr O'Brien then punched him seven more times with alternating fists while his victim was on the ground.

After the incident, the visibly dazed victim was then seen spitting out his own teeth and blood from his mouth.

The court heard the victim continued his aggressive behaviour when paramedics arrived and they had to remove him from the ambulance.

Dad Paul O'Brien talking to Sunday World in 2013

Justice Michael Elkhaim said O'Brien noted that the victim had "behaved appallingly" and Mr O'Brien acted to protect women at the pub, but it was not his place to take matters into his own hands.

"It doesn't excuse his behaviour, but I wonder why the pub didn't kick [the victim] out," Justice Elkhaim said.

"[The victim] behaved appallingly, he deserved to be reprimanded.

"Whatever [the victim's] failing, there is no room for vigilante conduct."

The judge said he believed Mr O'Brien had acknowledged the errors of his actions.

The court heard he had already spent 50 days in prison over the incident.

The judge handed down a nine-month suspended and directed that Mr O'Brien enter into a good behaviour order.

The death of Mr O'Brien's sister had a devastating impact on their family.

They had gone on family holiday to Florida followed by a cruise to the Caribbean.

Lynsey fell overboard moments after he dad Paul had put her to bed.

Receipts obtained after he death show she had been served at least 10 alcoholic drinks by staff despite being underage.

After her death, her father had campaigned for better safety on cruise ships.

He self-published a book, Lynsey's Law: Coffin Cruise Ships and Obama, detailing the case and the impact it had.

He spoke to the Sunday World after publishing the book and explained how he struggled to wake from the living nightmare that Lynsey's death plunged him and his family into. He openly discussed his struggles with bipolar disorder and how he couldn't cope after his daughter' death.

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