A TEENAGE assault victim said he no longer feels safe going out after he was attacked, without provocation, late at night in a Skibbereen pizzeria.
Duane Desmond (23) of 10 Homerule Terrace, Skibbereen, pleaded guilty to assaulting the teenager, causing him harm, during a post-St Patrick’s Day melee at Mizzoni’s pizza shop at Main Street on March 18th last.
Sgt Paul Kelly said the CCTV footage at 1.47am showed Duane Desmond punching the youth in the mouth, causing a laceration that required five stitches to his gum and also damaged six teeth.
The accused was before the court on a total of three charges. The second charge related to a public order offence of engaging in threatening and abusive words and behaviour.
The third charge – to which he also pleaded guilty – was a single count of an unprovoked assault on Daniel Duggan on the same night. Sgt Kelly said Daniel Duggan, an innocent bystander, had tried to separate people engaged in an altercation when Duane Desmond stepped forward from the side of the group and punched him in the face.
According to the sergeant, Daniel Duggan did not respond. However, Duane Desmond approached him three minutes later, and struck him in the back of the head when he wasn’t looking.
In a victim impact statement, the teenager said: ‘Before this incident, I didn’t know the person and I still don’t, but I now feel unsafe going out in Skibbereen.’
He outlined how he was unable to eat solid food or play sports for six weeks, and how he missed a lot of school.
The cost of his dental and orthodontic work, to date, has been €3,400, but he said the dentist isn’t sure if he will need more treatment in the future.
The assault victim was not in court, but his parents attended the hearing and listened to a letter of apology from the defendant.
The accused, through his solicitor, Colette McCarthy, addressed it to Judge James McNulty. In it, Duane Desmond expressed his ‘sincere remorse for my irresponsible and dangerous behaviour. There was,’ he added, ‘no excuse for my actions, and I accept full responsibility for what I’ve done.’
Since the incident, he said he has been attending an addiction counsellor and he has ‘come to understand the impact upon those around me of my relationship with alcohol and the danger which I expose myself to, and others, when I drink.’
Judge McNulty noted that nowhere in the letter of apology did the accused mention – as his solicitor had previously pointed out – that he had consumed both alcohol and cocaine that night.
The accused said he was deeply sorry for the harm and the hurt he had caused and asked for a chance to improve himself by attending regular meetings with his counsellor, by avoiding alcohol, working hard, and staying away from pubs, clubs and potentially hazardous situations.
Sgt Kelly closed the prosecution case saying that the accused has 14 previous convictions – five of which are for public order offences. But Ms McCarthy said a lot of these dated back to when her client was a juvenile and was, even at that stage, struggling with alcohol issues.
She appealed for leniency on the basis that her client had stayed out of trouble for a long period of time and had only recently ‘regressed.’
The solicitor said her client had €1,100 in compensation in court and would, given time, be able to pay more because he lives with his father and works with him as a builder’s labourer.
The judge said the charges were too serious to consider a community service order, or a suspended sentence. He spoke about the combination of cocaine and alcohol as being ‘a bad mix, and a dangerous mix, that could lead to unprovoked, irrational and extreme violence.’
He said the accused’s offending was escalating and it was ‘time to go away.’ He convicted and sentenced Duane Desmond to six months for his assault on the youth, and three months concurrent for assaulting Daniel Duggan.
In respect of the public order offence, the accused was ordered to place himself under the supervision of the Probation Service for one year to address his addiction and anger issues.
Judge McNulty said the supervision would provide him with support and guidance while in custody and on his release from prison. The accused was not, however, taken into custody, because his solicitor asked for recognisance to be fixed for an appeal.