The Court of Appeals was told Wednesday that a man forgave the assailant who left him unconscious and suffering a potentially fatal hemorrhage to the brain after a “devastating one-punch attack.”
Stephen Duffy (28) of Homelawn Road, Tallaghat, pleaded guilty at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of causing grievous harm to Darren Darley (50) after two men crossed paths for the first time on 29 August at Belgard Road, Tallaght, Dublin . , 2016.
Although Judge Melanie Greeley said Mr Darley was “lucky to have escaped with his life” after the attack, he sentenced his assailant to a fully suspended sentence of four years at a hearing last July.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) later appealed the sentence on the grounds that Judge Greeley had erred in not applying the period of custody and that the fine he had imposed was unreasonably lenient.
After an appeals hearing on Tuesday, Mr Justice George Birmingham, sitting with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Ellen Donnelly, said he expected the court to be in a position to deliver a decision today.
However, the court decided to reserve judgment for a second time, when text messages from the injured party to Duffy indicating that Mr. Darley does not want his assailant to be jailed, were presented in court by defense attorney Giolaosa Lidedha SC. was read.
‘Happy to be forgiven’
In a message, Mr. Darley told his assailant that he was “delighted to forgive” him and wanted to “shut him up”.
“Stephen, I accept your apologies,” Mr. Darley wrote in the text. “I expected not to be taken into custody because I know my injuries were not intentional. That was probably the craziest moment. We all make mistakes about drinks.”
He then tells his assailant, who became a father after the attack, that he should “build a good future and make his child proud”.
“I really wish you and your family a good future,” he said, adding that he has no “maliciousness” towards his attacker.
Upon hearing the contents of the messages, Mr Justice Birmingham described Mr Darley’s attitude towards his assailant as “extraordinarily charitable”.
The judge, however, said he was not sure that would be a relevant factor in determining whether the appellate court should offend the defendant.
“It is for the court to identify and enforce the appropriate punishment,” he said.
Mr Justice Birmingham also noted that there have been instances when a court had taken into account the views of the victims when passing a sentence, such as “a situation where a dangerous driver died, where the deceased was the best of the accused and the family.” was friend. The deceased may say that their loss will be increased by the imposition of a custodial sentence”.
Mr Lidida told the court that the messages had exposed “truly extraordinary circumstances” and that it would be “unfair” to impose a custodial fine on his client at this point in the proceedings.
Mr Garnett Orange SC for the DPP said he was “very surprised by the content of the text messages”.
Mr. Orange explained, “The information provided by Mr. Lidedha to the court and supported by the text messages read by him is certainly in agreement with the position taken by the injured party on consultation.”
The lawyer said that the DPP did not object “to this information being placed before the court”.
“But my instructions were also that these (messages) would have no bearing on the decision to be taken by the court in this appeal,” he said.
Justice Birmingham, reserving the decision for a second time, explained that “in light of the debate that has taken place, we should give ourselves a little more time”.
During Tuesday’s appeal hearing, Mr Orange told the court that “a single blow between strangers” can often have “disastrous consequences for the parties concerned”.
‘traumatic brain injury’
In this case, which he called a “classic one-strike assault case”, the immediate effect on the victim was a prolonged hospital stay, where he was treated for a “traumatic brain injury”.
In the long term, he said Mr. Darley had to close his recruiting business after suffering a “loss” in his memory.
Mr Orange also said that Duffy returned to the scene to bring his victim in a position to recover was not a significant mitigation factor, noting that the defendant almost immediately fled a second time and only later Gardai. Was unearthed by the “unusual clothes” she wore that night.
He said the DPP had no objection to a headline sentence of six-and-a-half years, which Judge Greely had identified, or a compounding period of four years, both of which were appropriate conditions for the offence.
However, the lawyer said the sentencing judge was at fault for failing to impose a custody period on Duffy “in a manner that was consistent with the sentences imposed in other cases.”
In response, Mr Lydeda said Judge Greeley had given a “comprehensive and careful explanation as to why the sentence should have been suspended in its entirety”.
He said there was no element of “pre-planning” or “continuous violence” for the attack and that a single blow was struck after a brief verbal exchange between the men.
Mr Lidedha said his client was “extremely remorseful” for his actions, was no longer abusing alcohol, and had made a positive contribution to society “as a human being, an activist, a father and a partner”. was trying his best.
Judge Greeley was also told that the victim agreed to accept €5,000 from Duffy.
She said she had completely suspended the four-year sentence on stricter terms, with Duffy paying an additional €10,000 to the victim within a two-year period.