A violent attacker who repeatedly kicked a pensioner’s head during a brutal and unprovoked attack that lasted 14 minutes had his 13-year sentence reduced by the Court of Appeal today.
Onathan O’Driscoll (33), formerly of Coolcower House, Macroom, Co Cork, has been jailed after pleading guilty to assaulting and causing serious damage to Christy O’Callaghan (73) on 21 March 2019 in Sleaveen East, Macroom to have.
During the sustained attack, Mr O’Callaghan, who has since died, suffered a bilateral scalp injury, fractures to his facial bones, extensive soft tissue damage, multiple fractured ribs, a collapsed lung and a subdural hematoma.
He later required life-saving treatment at Cork University Hospital and, after being discharged from his injuries, had to be transferred from home to a long-term care facility.
O’Driscoll appealed the harshness of Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin’s sentence to Cork Circuit Criminal Court in February 2021, arguing that it was “in all circumstances excessive”.
Before the Court of Appeal, O’Driscoll’s attorney, Siobhan Lankford SC, said the total sentence of 15 years was excessive and “set at the upper end of the maximum range”.
Mr Judge Patrick McCarthy read the court’s verdict today and said the trial judge correctly identified 15 years as the primary sentence for Mr O’Callaghan’s “vicious assault” in a car park in the early hours of this morning.
Mr Justice McCarthy said O’Driscoll approached Mr O’Callaghan, who was sitting in a parked van, before checking the doors of 20 other parked vehicles. O’Driscoll then returned to attack Mr O’Callaghan, pulling him out of the van and throwing him to the ground.
Mr Justice McCarthy said Mr O’Callaghan tried to escape but O’Driscoll, who was 31 at the time, caught up with him and kicked and stomped on Mr O’Callaghan in the face and torso. He stole Mr O’Callaghan’s watch, jacket and wallet during the 14-minute attack, which was captured on CCTV.
Psychological reports revealed no mental illness, but referred to the applicant’s addiction.
Mr Justice McCarthy said the attack was “protracted, vicious and unprovoked” and the trial judge was “well justified” in calling 15 years the main sentence.
Mr Justice McCarthy said Mr O’Callaghan has to live in a care home with an “extremely restrictive” routine and needs help walking and using the toilet. He said Mr O’Callaghan’s sight was “almost gone” as a result of the attack and that Mr O’Callaghan was “very frustrated” at the care home.
However, Mr Justice McCarthy said the three-judge court would reduce the sentence to facilitate Driscoll’s rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Mr McCarthy said the main sentence would remain in place, as would the 13-year sentence after mitigation.
However, he said the final two years of the 13-year sentence would be suspended and that O’Driscoll should contact the Probation and Addiction Services while in prison and during the suspended portion of the sentence.
At the appeal hearing, Ms Lankford said her client’s behavior was inexcusable and that he made no attempt to “defend it in any way”.
Ms Lankford said her client cooperated with the court case from the start after his arrest.
Although he does not suffer from a “major psychiatric disorder,” she said he has “a history of psychiatric disorders, suffering from anxiety and depression, having attempted suicide, and having had contact with counselors.”
She said O’Driscoll came to court with a signed pleading and expressed remorse for his actions.
“2 years [discount] is simply not sufficient under any circumstances,” she said.
During the pleas, Presiding Justice John Edwards said Mr O’Callaghan’s life was ruined by the attack.
“It’s easy to apologize when you’ve ruined someone’s life,” the judge said.
Mr Justice Edwards also said the court was saddened to hear that Mr O’Callaghan had since passed away, adding that his “very poignant” statement about the impact on the victim was included in the court papers.
In his victim impact statement, Mr O’Callaghan said he lived a “fine life” before the crime.
“I enjoyed working with greyhounds and visited the greyhound track twice a week. Through the dogs I had made many good friends.
“Since I was attacked so badly, my life has changed completely. Since then I’ve been in the hospital and haven’t been home. No one will ever know half of what I’ve suffered.
“You [O’Driscoll] took away my basic human rights. I can’t go to the toilet by myself. I have to be treated by a normally female nurse, which I find embarrassing and degrading. I don’t think I’ll be staying home unaccompanied again. This breaks my heart,” said Mr O’Callaghan.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/violent-attacker-who-repeatedly-stamped-on-pensioners-head-in-brutal-14-minute-assault-has-jail-term-reduced-42072652.html Prison sentence reduced for violent attacker who repeatedly kicked pensioner’s head in brutal 14-minute assault