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'Sometimes I wish I was dead': Pensioner tells of his pain as man jailed for 15 years for unprovoked assault

No explanation was given for the assault and the parties were not known to each other.

Image: PA

A MAN HAS been jailed for 15 years with the last two years suspended for a vicious fourteen-minute unprovoked assault on a 73-year-old man who was so badly injured that he is unable to live independently. 

Christy O’Callaghan from Macroom, Co Cork is well known in the world of greyhound racing as he trained a number of winners of the Irish Laurels in the 1970’s and 1980’s. 

He was left in a critical condition at Cork University Hospital following the assault on 21 March 2019

Jonathan O’Driscoll (31) of Coolcower House, Macroom pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm to Christy O’Callaghan at Sleaveen East, Macroom on that occasion.

Detective Garda Alan O’Sullivan said Mr O’Callaghan was sitting in his car in a car park shortly before midnight on 21 March 2019 when O’Driscoll dragged him from his vehicle and started stomping on his head. 

He said that O’Driscoll, who the court heard had been released from hospital following a psychotic episode, dragged the pensioner from the car and threw him around like a “rag doll”.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard it was a vicious and sustained assault which lasted for 14 minutes. The entire incident was captured on CCTV. 

Members of the public raised the alarm and when gardai arrived at the scene they found O’Driscoll cradling Mr O’Callaghan.

Detective Garda O’Sullivan said that O’Driscoll “stomped” O’Callaghan on the top of his head a number of times.

 “He kicked him when he was in a lifeless position.”

Mr O’Callaghan incurred serious injuries included a bilateral scalp laceration, fractures to his facial bones, extensive soft tissue damage, fracture of the ribs, a collapsed lung and subdural haematoma. Following extensive hospital treatment, he is now being cared for in a long term care facility.

Detective Garda O’Sullivan said that Mr O’Callaghan will “never be right again”. He needs the assistance of two nurses to walk. The pensioner is very frustrated arising out of the ruination of his life.

In a victim impact statement, Christy O’Callaghan said that prior to the crime he led a “nice life”.

“I enjoyed working with greyhounds and attended the greyhound track twice a week. I had made a lot of good friends through the dogs. Since I was so badly assaulted my life has totally changed. I have been in hospital since and I have not been home. Nobody will ever know half of what I suffered.

“Aside from the physical injuries and pain, the loneliness of lying here in my hospital bed is terrible altogether. Sometimes I wish I was dead.

“You (O’Driscoll) took away my basic human rights. I cannot go to the toilet on my own. I have to be taken by a nurse who is normally female, which to me is embarrassing and degrading. I do not think I will be left home unaccompanied again. This breaks my heart.”

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Barrister Siobhan Lankford, defending, said her that client was from a difficult background and suffered with anxiety and depression. 

She said that two weeks before the incident O’Driscoll had a psychotic incident and went to a hospital. He was discharged after four days even after he told staff that he didn’t want to be released as he felt too unwell.

She said that the father of one had worked for a period as a PVC manufacturer and labourer and was in no trouble with gardai from 2009 to 2016. She made an appeal for leniency given the signed plea and cooperation of her client.

Judge Sean O’Donnabhain said that it was an “extraordinarily vicious and unprovoked assault.” He emphasised that the life of the pensioner was now a “living hell”.

Taking the viciousness and the continuity of the assault he jailed O’Driscoll for 15 years suspending the last two years of the sentence. 

Judge O’Donnabhain said that O’Driscoll had feared that he would do harm but was released from hospital. However, he said there was no excuse for the “sustained, deliberate and prolonged violence”.

About the author:

Olivia Kelleher

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