vicious assault | 

Man (25) who repeatedly stamped on victim’s head in unprovoked attack walks free from court

Lee O’Brien, who did not know the victim, told Gardai he was “disgusted” by his own actions.

The South Court Hotel in Limerick where the unprovoked attack took place

David Raleigh

A man who repeatedly stamped on another man’s head during an unprovoked attack at a Limerick hotel has walked free from court after receiving a fully suspended sentence.

Lee O’Brien, (25), with an address at Cratloe Woods Student Village, Co Clare, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Danny Sutton, (born 1997), from Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford, at the South Court Hotel, Raheen, Limerick, on 9 September, 2018.

Following his arrest O’Brien, who did not know the victim, told Gardai he was “disgusted” by his own actions.

The unprovoked attack occurred in the early hours of the morning near the hotel’s residents bar, and after the accused had consumed alcohol, which the court heard he had an addiction to.

It’s understood Mr Sutton, who had been staying at the hotel after attending an event at an exhibition centre in Limerick, attempted to intervene in an argument involving O’Brien and members of his family, however O’Brien lashed out, punching Mr Sutton and knocking him to the ground.

O’Brien continued attacking Mr Sutton as he lay on the ground, and after having walked away, he returned and stamped on Mr Sutton’s head at least three times.

Judge Tom O’Donnell described it as a “vicious” attack.

“Without any provocation the victim was struck by Mr O’Brien, who knocked him to the ground and stamped on his head on three occasions,” said the judge.

“It was an unprovoked and very violent attack. The accused clearly targeted the victim’s head with several stamps, he took a deliberate position and delivered a number of stamps to the victim’s head.”

Judge O’Donnell said it was “fortunate” Mr Sutton’s injuries were “not as serious as they turned out to be”.

Mr Sutton suffered cuts, lacerations, and bruising to an eye and to his head, but he did not sustain “long lasting injuries and he made a full recovery”, the judge said.

The assault was captured on CCTV camera at the hotel and the footage “clearly showed Mr O’Brien as the aggressor and stamping on Mr Sutton a number of times,” said Judge O’Donnell.

After his arrest O’Brien made full admissions, telling Gardai, “drink doesn’t agree with me” and he admitted the attack was “disgusting”.

After he was charged with assault causing harm, O’Brien replied: “I’m very sorry.”

The judge said it appeared an argument had broken out between members of O’Brien’s party “and Mr Sutton may have gone to calm it down and the accused lost his temper and kicked and punched and stamped on him”.

“It was quite a vicious attack, Mr O’Brien became aggressive and looked to take his temper out on somebody.”

The court heard O’Brien had 16 previous convictions, including for assault and burglary, and theft.

O’Brien’s barrister said he was remorseful, is a loving father, has a long term partner, and was “absolutely appalled at his own behaviour”.

“He had quite a tough upbringing, and lost his father when he was 10 and he fell in with the wrong crowd,” said the barrister.

The court heard O’Brien had since “mended his ways, he’s exceptionally apologetic”, has found full-time employment, is attending Alcoholics Anonymous, and has engaged in residential treatment for his addiction.

O’Brien offered €500 compensation to the victim.

Judge O’Donnell said the fact the attack was completely unprovoked was “concerning” and that O’Brien, from his previous convictions, had shown a “propensity for violence, which is magnified by alcohol”.

In light of O’Brien’s early guilty plea, and his efforts to rehabilitate himself, the judge imposed a suspended two-year jail sentence and ordered he pay Mr Sutton €500 compensation.

Judge O’Donnell told O’Brien he would activate the suspended sentence if he got into trouble within the next two years.

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