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Dublin: 4°C Saturday 27 February 2021

Man who left schoolmate deaf in one ear in brawl was 'jealous' he was with a girl at the nightclub

Adam Clarke was out celebrating his 18th birthday when he attacked Ownie O’Connell, the court heard.

Image: Shutterstock/Zolnierek

AN APPRENTICE ELECTRICIAN who left a schoolmate deaf in one ear after he punched him in a fit of jealousy will be sentenced next month.

Adam Clarke (20) was out celebrating his 18th birthday party in a Dublin nightclub when he saw Ownie O’Connell kissing a girl who was known to both of them.

Witnesses then saw him punch O’Connell in the face, knocking him to the ground, before he hit a second time.

Garda Mark Costello told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that one of O’Connell’s friends immediately went to his assistance when he saw he had been knocked unconscious after his head hit the ground. He was bleeding from his mouth.

A second teenager ran to pull Clarke away before security guards moved in.

O’Connell was conscious by the time he arrived at James’s Hospital but he had a cut to his scalp, was vomiting and complaining of dizziness. He was kept in hospital for five days and has been left permanently deaf in his left ear.

Clarke of Ardara Avenue, Donaghmede, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to causing serious harm to Mr O’Connell at the Tivoli Theatre, Francis Street, Dublin 8, on 3 July 2016. He has no previous convictions.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the case to November 2 next and remanded Clarke on continuing bail.

Costello said Clarke showed no remorse during interview with gardaí and was smiling throughout his questioning. He told gardaí he had no regrets because “it was a great night”.

He said he didn’t know what had happened but said “I think I hit him”. He admitted he saw O’Connell kissing the girl, he wasn’t happy about it and he was angry.

When asked if he would like to apologise for putting his friend in hospital, he replied “no”.

Costello told Kennedy that he later became aware that Clarke visited the victim in hospital during which he accepted that he had hit him with his fist from behind in “an unprovoked assault”.

He said he was really sorry, that he had not meant to do it but he was “jealous” that O’Connell had been with the girl. Costello confirmed that there had been no animosity between O’Connell and Clarke before the assault.

In a victim impact report read out by Kennedy, O’Connell said he was permanently deaf in his left ear and suffered tinnitus.

He said he would need medical attention for the rest of his life. His impairment makes it hard to pay attention to what people are saying when there is background noise.

O’Connell said his final year in school was to be the year “he set the world alight” and achieved top grades but he found that he often didn’t get up to go to school. He felt left out and lonely.

He said he would see Clarke sitting in the same class as if nothing had happened. He didn’t get enough points in his Leaving Certificate to do the course he wanted in college. He couldn’t play football anymore because he would fall over if he tried to kick a ball.

O’Connell said he felt like the “old me was the real me”, he felt like he was “away from normal life”. He said his deafness was a severe impairment that affected both his work and social life.

Dominic McGinn SC, defending, said his client had €2,000 in court as “a concrete indication of his genuine remorse”. He confirmed that there is a civil action before the courts at the moment.

Costello agreed with McGinn that although he believed Clarke had not shown remorse, he had not met with him since his interview.

McGinn told Judge Greally that his client’s position had changed since his arrest and handed in number of testimonials and a physiologist’s report which he said “demonstrates remorse”.

His employer described the assault as out of character for Clarke and the coordinator of a charity that Clarke has done work for described him as “a placid young man who was never in trouble”. Both testimonials said he was “truly remorseful”.

McGinn asked that Clarke “not be condemned for his initial attitude” and the answers he gave during garda interview. He described it as “an isolated act of violence”.

“This is not his character. That is not the story of his life,” submitted counsel.

McGinn asked if his client should have to suffer unreasonably because of that “momentary lapse in his otherwise law-abiding life”. He said Clarke was “an upstanding young man” and spending time in custody would “undermine all that”.

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Sonya McLean

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