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'predatory' Trainee English PE teacher fined and gets suspended sentence for Dublin pub attack

The victim needed corrective nose surgery and had been concussed during the attack

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Copper Face Jacks nightclub. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Copper Face Jacks nightclub. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Copper Face Jacks nightclub. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

A TRAINEE PE teacher, who injured an Aer Lingus pilot in a "predatory" attack in Dublin's Copper Face Jacks nightclub, has been given a one-month suspended sentence.

Daniel Eccles, 25, Keppleway Drive, Barrow, Furness, England was also fined €1,000 and paid €3,000 compensation after he pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Harry Lobban, 39, in the early hours of December 3, 2018.

Dublin District Court heard he came to the city with football friends and had gone drinking before going to the nightclub and carrying out the unprovoked attack.

Garda Niall Murphy said Eccles struck Mr Lobban to the face twice.

The garda played CCTV footage, showing Eccles speaking to Mr Lobban's group beforehand. The sudden assault ended after security guards intervened.

He made no admissions when arrested and entered a guilty plea on the date the case was due to go to a full hearing with six prosecution witnesses in court.

In reply to questions from State solicitor Tom Conlon, the garda said Mr Lobban required plastic surgery for nose correction due to internal damage.

Mr Lobban told the judge he suffered a severe concussion, bruised eye socket and was unable to work for six months.

He said he has withdrawn from social events in Dublin's city centre, and his wife cannot sleep when he is away.

However, he accepted an apology from the accused.

The court heard Eccles made no comment when questioned after the incident and would not identify himself in the CCTV footage.

Garda Murphy said the Cumbria University student gave various explanations, but the video evidence showed he was the aggressor.

Eccles, a keen footballer and cricketer, had no prior criminal convictions and involved himself in fund-raising for children in difficult circumstances.

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His solicitor said that the money brought to court was all he could raise because he had a student loan. The defence furnished the court with references.

His father told Judge John Hughes his son had never been in trouble before and has assisted ill family members and helped coach kids basketball.

He told Judge Hughes his son and their family had been devastated by the court case.

Eccles apologised in court and said he feared a conviction could harm his future career prospects.

Defence solicitor Caroline Egan said the night of the incident was her client's first time in Ireland, and it had turned into a nightmare.

He had been drinking in the city with friends before having a sleep break. They then went out again to the nightclub, but he got separated from his group.

He had attended counselling in his university after he attacked Mr Lobban.

The solicitor said her client had an unblemished record and had also been the victim of an unprovoked assault in England two years before the incident.

Judge Hughes noted from his counselling reports that he had claimed he had acted in self-defence, "but be in no doubt I have watched the CCTV, I know what I have seen, I saw a predatory instinct".

Mr Lobban had moved away from the trainee teacher, who positioned himself in a "predatory fashion" to attack him. "And he did so having himself been a victim of an assault some years previously".

He noted the mitigating factors but said he had to impose a conviction and a custodial sentence, suspended on condition Eccles keeps the peace for 12 months.

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