savagery | 

Co Dublin man who left victim with traumatic brain injury in brutal attack is jailed

Aaron Murdiff was left with a lasting brain injury, and may never walk or run normally again. He is now cared for by his mother

Jamie Heffernan. Photo: Collins Courts

Fiona Ferguson and Isabel Hayes

A man who “viciously” attacked an acquaintance in an attack of “breathtaking savagery”, leaving his victim with a traumatic brain injury, has been jailed for five years.

Jamie Heffernan (22) took it upon himself to attack the victim, Aaron Murdiff, after he learned Mr Murdiff had attacked his cousin earlier that night, Judge Orla Crowe told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Monday.

Heffernan was captured on CCTV chatting in the early hours with the victim before another man approached and the atmosphere changed, the court heard.

Gardai believe Heffernan was informed at that point that Mr Murdiff had assaulted his cousin at a house party earlier that night.

The court heard that Heffernan struck Mr Murdiff causing him to fall to the ground and launched three separate assaults on him during the course of four and a half minutes.

Sentencing Heffernan, Judge Crowe said it was an attack of “breathtaking savagery, after which this accused walked away”. She said in the final two attacks, Heffernan repeatedly struck Mr Murdiff when he was lying motionless on the ground. The viciousness and severity of the assault was a significant factor, she said.

The court heard Mr Murdiff, now aged 25, was left with a lasting brain injury, and may never walk or run normally again. He is now cared for by his mother, who described the devastating impact the attack had on her son.

Two other co-accused, who cannot be identified as they are minors, are awaiting sentence for their roles in the assault on Mr Murdiff.

Heffernan, of Blackrock House, Newtown Avenue, Blackrock, pleaded guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Mr Murdiff at O’Rourke Park, Sallynoggin, on August 16, 2020. He has five previous convictions.

Garda Patrick O’Connor told Karl Finnegan BL, prosecuting, that Mr Murdiff and Heffernan had been at a house party in Sallynoggin on the night.

While Heffernan was absent, there was an incident at the house and Mr Murdiff assaulted Heffernan's cousin. He has since pleaded guilty to this assault and will be sentenced in July.

Mr Murdiff was asked to leave and he and Heffernan came across each other a short distance away.

CCTV captured them engaging in friendly conversation and hugging until another person approached and there was an exchange of words.

Gda O’Connor agreed that the atmosphere appeared to change and gardaí believe this person told Heffernan what had happened to his cousin.

The garda said Heffernan struck Mr Murdiff knocking him to the ground and he was kicked to the head and body in three separate assaults, with Heffernan leaving and returning twice to assault him again after the initial attack.

Heffernan was stopped and arrested a short distance away due to his agitated behaviour and it soon became clear to gardaí he may have been involved in the assault.

The court heard Mr Murdiff suffered a traumatic brain injury. The court heard he was not in a position to give a victim impact statement but one was handed into court from his mother and sister.

Gda O’Connor agreed with Garnet Orange SC, defending, that this was not a planned assault and was a spontaneous event arising from Heffernan’s state of mind when he found out what happened to his cousin.

Mr Orange said this was a “red mist descending” situation.

He said Heffernan had consumed considerable alcohol on the night and had gone out with the intention of getting drunk. He said he no longer drinks to excess as a result of these events and has made a concerted effort to reduce his alcohol use since the offence.

Counsel said Heffernan had rationalised his actions but acknowledged at all times that the level of violence used was excessive.


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