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'Stomach-churning' Judge blasts TV violence after 'barbaric' attack on man with broken curtain pole

The assault mirrored the infamous attack carried out on the character of Fran in RTE's Love/Hate in which he was held down and raped by a fellow prisoner with a snooker cue.

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Nathan Doherty and his mother Sharon, who he found in bed with the victim.

Nathan Doherty and his mother Sharon, who he found in bed with the victim.

Nathan Doherty and his mother Sharon, who he found in bed with the victim.

A judge has hit out at TV and filmmakers for inspiring viewers to carry out "barbaric" acts after a man had a broken wooden curtain pole rammed into his anus.

Circuit Court Judge Keenan Johnson said he was "horrified" at the "stomach-churning" injuries caused to Derek Murphy by Nathan Doherty after Mr Murphy was found in bed naked with Doherty's mother, Sharon.

The assault mirrored the infamous attack carried out on the character of Fran in RTE's Love/Hate in which he was held down and raped by a fellow prisoner with a snooker cue.

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The scenes from Love/Hate in which Fran is attacked with a snooker cue

The scenes from Love/Hate in which Fran is attacked with a snooker cue

The scenes from Love/Hate in which Fran is attacked with a snooker cue

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The scenes from Love/Hate in which Fran is attacked with a snooker cue

The scenes from Love/Hate in which Fran is attacked with a snooker cue

The scenes from Love/Hate in which Fran is attacked with a snooker cue

Mr Murphy had to use a colostomy bag for several months after the assault and has suffered psychological trauma.

Doherty (22), from Legan, Co. Longford, was this week sentenced to six years in prison, with the final three suspended for 10 years. Judge Johnson outlined the background to the attack, which happened on June 3, 2018.

Gardaí received a 999 call at 3.04am from a residence owned by Genette Freeman at Lisnacreeva, Colehill, Co. Longford. They found Mr Murphy seriously injured in the house, with Ms Freeman and mum-of-four Sharon Doherty trying to help him.

Earlier that night all three had socialised in Chambers bar in Mullingar.

"It appears that Sharon Doherty knew the victim for a number of weeks and arranged to meet him on the night in question in Chambers bar," Judge Johnson said.

The trio left the pub and after getting a takeaway were given a lift to the house. Sharon Doherty made contact with her family and advised them that she was staying with Ms Freeman for the night.

Nathan Doherty was suspicious and travelled to the house, went around the back of the property and saw Mr Murphy and his mother without clothes in bed together.

He stormed to the front door and barged in, where he shoved Sharon out of the way and furiously attacked Mr Murphy. Derek Murphy said a light was put on in the room and he could see Nathan Doherty clearly.

"Mr Murphy said he was trying to hold back the accused. He said that as the stick was being pushed into his anus that the accused was trying to finish him off," the court heard.

Mr Murphy described the pain as "excruciating" and thought he was going to die when the pole was rammed in at least twice and left there.

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Victim Derek Murphy

Victim Derek Murphy

Victim Derek Murphy

Doherty then picked up another implement and broke it over his back. It transpired that the same curtain pole had originally been fitted in the house by Doherty.

"Mr Murphy said there was blood everywhere and also coming from his anus," added the judge. Mr Murphy was rushed by ambulance to Mullingar hospital and then to the Mater hospital in Dublin.

He had to undergo surgery and such were the seriousness of his internal injuries he had to have a colostomy bag fitted for several months. Mr Murphy has suffered from incontinence at times and also bowel pains when going to the toilet. It's feared he may never regain continence control.

The court was told he has suffered very serious life-changing injuries, and is fearful of strangers, particularly women. He has also not engaged in sexual activity since the incident and is fearful he may not be able to again.


He lost work as a construction worker for long periods and has suffered financially.

Doherty told gardaí he took sole responsibility for the attack with the curtain pole, saying he "lost the head" and was "disgusted" with himself.

"There was shouting and roaring. I hit my mother a slap in the face. I shoved the pole up his a**e."

He later said: "I don't know why I did it. I just lost the head. I knew it was wrong what I did, I was ashamed."

Despite having a previous offer of €5,000 compensation offered by Nathan Doherty turned down by the victim, who said he did not want his money, Judge Johnson insisted there should be some recompense and instructed Doherty to pay a total sum of €30,000, with payments of €5,000 a-year on release from jail.

"It is hard to imagine how the accused could act in such a vile, sadistic, vicious, cruel and barbaric way," the judge said at Mullingar Circuit Court.

He addressed Doherty by video link from Castlerea jail as he has been in custody since he pleaded guilty in a hearing last June.

"One wonders what subconsciousness caused the accused, who had heretofore an unblemished record, to behave in such an uncivilised and cruel way.

"Was it something he saw on TV or read in a book? When you see an assault of this nature you have to question the portrayal of graphic violence in our cinemas and on our TV screens."

He added: "I do not believe the accused would have committed such a barbaric act had he not been exposed or seen such an act in some form of drama, supposedly masquerading as entertainment."

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