Tidy Towns volunteer's life ruined after unprovoked glass bottle attack

August 8th, 2017 1:02 PM

By Southern Star Team

Gda Martin Hegarty told the court that Mr Murphy was helping out with a Tidy Towns clean-up in Castletownbere.

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A 27-year-old man has been jailed for three years for an unprovoked attack on a West Cork Tidy Towns volunteer.

A 27-YEAR-old man has been jailed for three years for an unprovoked attack on a West Cork Tidy Towns volunteer.

The volunteer's skull was fractured so badly with a vodka bottle that his victim now has to stay indoors with the blinds down because he suffers migraines due to light sensitivity.

Jaanus Poldme, an Estonian who grew up in Castletownbere, but now is of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to landscape gardener Kieran Murphy (30) at the Square in Castletownbere on April 2nd.

Gda Martin Hegarty told the court that Mr Murphy was helping out with a Tidy Towns clean-up in Castletownbere and was walking to his van at around 5pm on the day when, without any warning, Poldme came up behind him and smashed a three-quarters-full vodka bottle across his head.

Poldme made full admissions to the assault, but he could give no reason for the attack, which was seen by a number of witnesses and was on CCTV.

Last week Mr Murphy described, in a Victim Impact Statement, how he had finished up his volunteer work with Castletownbere Tidy Towns group and was walking to his van when Poldme walked up behind and, without cause or warning, hit him with a 2 litre vodka bottle. ‘I was knocked unconscious and when I regained consciousness two minutes later, I found myself lying in a pool of blood ... before I was transferred by ambulance to CUH.

‘Many agonising hours later, MRI and brain scans revealed a depressed skull fracture and air pockets in my skull. I was treated for a laceration to the scalp and was kept under observation for the next few days as I had bled from my ear and was at risk of infection and seizures.'

Mr Murphy said he is now in constant pain with relentless migraines and noise and light sensitivity, and  vertigo, making leaving home a debilitating experience for him and he can no longer work.

‘I used to take great pleasure in working outside in the fresh air, but now the daylight causes migraines and I spend my days inside with the blinds down,' said Mr Murphy, who also suffered a jaw joint dislocation which causes him pain when he eats and means he cannot yawn.

‘I am unable to drive myself around since the attack due to a reduced cognitive ability and awareness and also due to pain ... I no longer feel safe to leave the house.

 ‘My short term memory has become so poor that I currently rely on family members to keep track of important tasks like taking my medication and filling out forms,' said Mr Murphy.

‘There are times I barely recognise myself, due to the levels of anxiety, the fear, night terrors, irritability and depression that has consumed me. I stay awake at night going over what happened to me and fearing that I might be attacked again.

‘I did not ask for any of this ... at this moment of time, I have no idea where my life is going – all that I have worked so hard for and the life I loved has been suddenly taken from me in this senseless fashion by the accused person.'

Poldme, who had a total of 11 previous convictions, including convictions for public order, criminal damage, drugs and engaging in threatening or abusive behaviour, had entered a signed plea of guilty to the charge, but was still unable to tell gardaí why he attacked Mr Murphy.

‘I can't explain why I assaulted him – it was not that I made up my mind to attack him – I can't explain it,' said Poldme, in an interview with gardaí and the court heard that Poldme had some previous engagement with the mental health services.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin wondered why the DPP had not decided on a charge of assault causing serious harm, rather than the lesser charge of assault causing harm, given the injuries which Mr Murphy sustained.

He sentenced Poldme to four years in jail with the final year suspended on condition he stays away from Castletownbere for two years upon his release, and that he has no contact with Mr Murphy upon his release.

When Judge Ó Donnabháin imposed the sentence, Poldme addressed him from the dock and said: ‘So now I am starting a three-year sentence and now I cannot go back to the town where I spent half of my life.' The sentence was backdated to April 4th last when Poldme was first taken into custody.

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