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Man (24) who caused pub-goer to sustain brain injury after one-punch attack given suspended sentence

The victim has since made a good recovery.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

A MAN WHO recklessly punched another pub-goer causing him to fall, hit his head and sustain a traumatic brain injury has been given a four-year suspended sentence.

Liam Stoneham (24) wrote a letter to the court saying he had been haunted by guilt when he learned of the extent of the injuries caused to the victim.

Stoneham of Bewley Drive in Lucan, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to recklessly causing serious harm to Adam Ward at Stephen’s Green on 3 February, 2019.

The victim sustained a fractured skull and traumatic brain injury but the court heard he has happily made a good recovery. He still suffers some ongoing effects and has lost his sense of smell.

Judge Martin Nolan described the case as “a one-punch assault”. He said perpetrators of such assaults may not intend the injuries cause but “everyone knows the probable consequences of one-punch assaults”.

“If you punch someone in this way you know there is some likelihood that serious injury will occur,” the judge said.

He said “thankfully for everyone”, the victim had made a good recovery while acknowledging that there is a small risk of future seizures.

The judge said that he had considered that Stoneham had no previous convictions, had made admissions, was from a good family and doing well in college, and that he determined that a custodial sentence “would not be justified”.

He imposed a four-year term, which he suspended in full on condition that Stoneham hand over €10,000 he had in court for the victim.

He said should the victim not want to take the money, it could be donated to a “worthy charity” chosen by the investigating garda.

The judge also said that Stoneham must raise a further €10,000 in two years for the victim, but said if the victim did not want this there would be no need to go any further and that the amount would not need to be donated.

“People do not buy their way out of jail in this court,” the judge said.

“I then decided that as a way of compensating Mr Ward and secondly punishing Mr Stoneham, the money should be raised.”

The judge also said he understood that Stoneham likely had to borrow the money from his family, which would represent a probable burden for them, but added that he was in no doubt that Stoneham would be paying them back.

“He should understand that he is getting a considerable chance and if he re-offends, he could go to jail for four years,” the judge said.

‘Barrelled’ through group

Garda Gemma Holmes told counsel for the prosecution Karl Finnegan that CCTV captured an initial disagreement between two groups in Sinnott’s bar on the night the assault occurred.

A young man “barrelled” through the victim’s group, who were seated in a reserved area, and words were exchanged. One group was directed to leave the pub.

Later in the night, the victim was standing outside in the pub’s smoking area when Stoneham and another man were being escorted out by security. The other man slapped the victim to the face and Stoneham then punched him.

The victim fell backwards, hit his head and was knocked unconscious. The two men then left the area while gardaí and an ambulance were contacted.

Gardaí downloaded CCTV and received information which led them to identify the accused as a suspect.

After his arrest, Stoneham accepted he had struck the victim and told gardaí he did not realise the seriousness of what had happened. He accepted the victim had not struck or threatened him in any way and was remorseful.

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The court heard that although the injuries were serious, the victim had made good progress and a recent medical report indicated he felt 95% improved. A victim impact statement was handed into court.

‘Moments of madness’

Counsel indicated that the Director of Public Prosecutions’ view was that the case lay at the lower end of the range for this offence in terms of offending behaviour and harm caused.

He said the case fell in the range of serious harm but was borderline. He said Stoneham had no previous convictions and has not come at any further garda attention.

Counsel for the defence John Fitzgerald handed in a number of references to court on Stoneham’s behalf.

He said it was important to note that the DPP had accepted a plea to recklessly causing serious harm rather than intentionally causing serious harm.

He said that save for these few “moments of madness” in 2019, his client had led an exemplary life and his remorse was considerable. He is currently studying for a masters in economics and risk analysis.

He handed in a letter written by Stoneham, who outlined he was haunted by guilt since he found out the extend of the victim’s injuries and that he was aware he had caused pain, not just to his own family but to the victim and his family.

Stoneham also wrote a letter to the victim.

Counsel said Stoneham was supported in court by family members who have “shared in his nightmare” since it took place.

He added that his client was not a man of means but had brought €10,000 to court.

About the author:

Fiona Ferguson and Sonya McLean

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