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Dublin: 15 °C Monday 13 July, 2020

Man (21) pleads guilty to drunken 'one punch' assault that killed friend on Halloween night in 2017

Luke O’Reilly died two weeks after being assaulted by Jack Hall Ellis in 2017.


AN APPRENTICE CARPENTER will be sentenced next month for a “one punch” assault on a friend who hit his head on the ground and later died from his injuries.

Jack Hall Ellis, 21, told gardaí he was acting in “drunkenness and anger” when he punched Luke O’Reilly, 20, once without warning as they left a pub on Halloween night in 2017.

The deceased fell and hit his head on the ground, causing brain injuries which led to his death in hospital two weeks later.

Hall Ellis, of Lismore Road, Crumlin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to unlawfully killing O’Reilly today.

The court heard that the deceased was assaulted in the early hours of 1 November at Old Blessington Road, Tallaght.

Garda David Morris told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that Luke O’Reilly had been at the cinema that evening with his mother and sister, before heading out to meet a friend at the Metro Bar on the Old Blessington Road in Tallaght.

At about 2am, the deceased and his friend were walking away from the bar towards McDonalds in Tallaght Village.

Hall Ellis ran over and hit Luke once on the right side of the head in what was described by the friend of the deceased as a “sly dig”.

The deceased fell and a witness described a “clatter” as his head hit the ground.

Paramedics attended to the deceased at the scene but he did not regain consciousness and died on 13 November, 2017.

‘Drunkenness and anger’

Hall Ellis voluntarily went to a garda station on the same date and was interviewed.

He told gardaí that the deceased had “flirted with his girlfriend” the previous week and that he was annoyed because he thought they were friends.

He said he had hit the deceased “a slap”, which he accepted that the deceased did not know was coming and that he could therefore not defend himself.

Hall Ellis later told gardaí his actions had been caused by “drunkenness and anger”, and said that during the course of the night, he had drank seven to ten double rums.

He expressed remorse and became emotional while speaking to gardaí, and also apologised to the family of the deceased, saying the incident had been a “tragic accident”.

“I just want Luke’s ma to know I did not mean to do that to her son,” he said. “Drink got the better of me.”

In her victim impact statement, Luke O’Reilly’s mother, Janet O’Brien, paid tribute to her son and described how he had always been there for family and friends and was protective of his siblings.

“He was often described as a gentle giant,” she said O’Brien, adding that her son was thoughtful and always anxious for other people to be happy.

She said the family were “completely broken” by his loss, and how they think about milestones he will never celebrate and feel his absence at family occasions.

“He should be here,” she told Judge Greally.

No responsibility

The mother of the deceased also told the court they had never discussed organ donation due to Luke’s young age, but she knew it was something he would do in order to save another family from going through the same loss.

She also said she still expects him to walk through the door and wishes for one more hug that she knew in her “shattered heart” would never come.

His aunt, Karen Lynch, also told the court: “People need to realise life is precious and easily lost. They need to think before taking actions they might regret.”

Garda David Morris agreed with Michael Bowman SC, defending, that the deceased had no responsibility for what happened, that he had acted entirely appropriately during the night prior to the incident and had not jeered or antagonised Hall Ellis in any way.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned sentencing to allow reports to be prepared and listed the case for mention next month so a final sentence date can be set.

The court will also hear a plea in mitigation from lawyers defending Hall Ellis on the same date.

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About the author:

Fiona Ferguson

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