Brutal assault | 

Limerick woman who caused brain injury after ‘bashing’ man’s skull off footpath jailed

Alan McCarthy suffered a “sustained traumatic brain injury” due to “multiple impacts”

Courtney Murphy

Alan McCarthy (far right) with his dad Patrick McCarthy and sister Ciara McCarthy

David Raleigh

A young woman who repeatedly “bashed” a man’s skull on the edge of a footpath has been jailed for four years for the assault, which left the victim with a brain injury and using a cane to walk.

Courtney Murphy, who at the time had just turned 18 years of age, jumped on Alan McCarthy, knocked him to the ground, and repeatedly punched and banged his head off the ground, Limerick Circuit Court heard.

Ms Murphy, 20, from New Road, Thomondgate, Limerick, who pleaded guilty to assault causing harm, told gardai she “lost control” on the day.

She had claimed in her garda interviews after her arrest that Mr McCarthy had grabbed her by the throat during an earlier altercation an hour beforehand.

However, the court heard attack on Mr McCarthy which occurred at Westfield Wetlands, Condell Road, Limerick, on September 17, 2021 was a “one-sided” incident.

“It was a one-sided attack against an intoxicated male who couldn’t defend himself,” John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, told the court.

An eye-witness told gardai they saw Ms Murphy “on top of” Mr McCarthy, before she “grabbed his (Mr McCarthy’s) hair and banging his head a couple of times off the ground and punching him”.

Another witness told gardai they saw Ms Murphy “on top of Alan McCarthy, punching him to his face”.

Alan McCarthy (far right) with his dad Patrick McCarthy and sister Ciara McCarthy

A third witness said they saw Ms Murphy and Mr McCarthy verbally arguing and Ms Murphy telling the victim she would “get her boyfriend”.

A witness claimed they saw Ms Murphy’s boyfriend, Darnell Price, punch Mr McCarthy in the face, however Mr Price, who has pleaded guilty to a charge of engaging in violent disorder, denied striking the victim.

All parties had consumed a significant amount of alcohol on the day, including Mr McCarthy.

Mr O’Sullivan said Alan McCarthy was “violently assaulted, his head was bashed off concrete ground“.

Garda forensic tests carried out on Ms Murphy’s jeans tested positive for a match for Mr McCarthy’s blood.

Mr O’Sullivan said Ms Murphy admitted to gardai assaulting Mr McCarthy: “In her own words, she ‘lost control’.”

The prosecution barrister said Ms Murphy also admitted that Mr McCarthy “did not hit her” when she set upon him in the park.

Mr O’Sullivan said the “persistence” of gardai and paramedics, in assisting Mr McCarthy to hospital, probably saved his life.

Mr McCarthy suffered a “bleed” on the left side of his brain in the attack, he was transferred from University Hospital Limerick to Cork University Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

Doctors said Mr McCarthy suffered a “sustained traumatic brain injury” due to “multiple impacts” which left him with “memory cognition issues”, and he continues to suffer “significant weakness in his limbs and impaired psychological function”.

The victim’s father Patrick McCarthy, wrote in a victim impact statement that his son was left with “a life sentence” of “life-changing injuries”.

“He can’t play with his kids anymore due to this brutal attack by Courtney Murphy”.

Ciara McCarthy, the victim’s sister, said her brother “is no longer himself, we have to help him eat, pick things up, go upstairs”.

Ms Murphy’s barrister said she had led “a chaotic childhood” after being left “orphaned at a young age”; she had “very little family support”; and “no previous convictions”.

The barrister said Ms Murphy had consumed “alcohol” and cannabis which probably “played a part” in her behaviour.

“Gardai accept she is genuinely remorseful, she was physically sick when she learnt of the extent of Mr McCarthy’s injuries,” the barrister said.

The court heard that one of Alan McCarthy’s children had cried themselves to sleep over their dad’s injuries, they missed playing games with him, and they remain fearful he “will fall and die” because of his injuries.

Ms Murphy and her boyfriend Darnell Price sat together in the dock.

Mr Price, 23, of Kileely Road, Thomondgate, has 82 previous convictions for assault causing harm, possession of knives, criminal damage, burglary, theft, the court heard.

The prosecution said it accepted that, similar to Ms Murphy, Mr Price also “didn't get anything like a good start in childhood”.

At the time of the attack on Mr McCarthy, Mr Price had just been released from prison, said Mr O’Sullivan: “He has led a recidivist life with a propensity for violence.”

Judge Tom O’Donnell jailed Ms Murphy for five years backdated to February 2 this year when she voluntarily went into custody after revoking her bail.

The final 12 months of the sentence were suspended on condition she does not reoffend during the five years after her release date and that she adheres to a one-year post release supervision order in which she must engage with the probation services during that time.

Mr Price was remanded for sentencing at Limerick Circuit Court on July 18.

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