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Cathal Crotty (22)
Cathal Crotty case

Soldier who attacked woman has been formally told he likely faces dismissal from the military

Cathal Crotty, an army Private, was brought before a senior officer today and told that the military were making preparations to deal with him.

LAST UPDATE | 8 hrs ago

THE LIMERICK SOLDIER convicted of an unprovoked attack on a woman has been formally brought before his commanding officer and told that he is facing likely dismissal from the Defence Forces.

The Journal has learned that earlier today Cathal Crotty was “paraded” before a senior commanding officer and told that the Defence Forces will take action against him following his conviction.

“Paraded” is a military term that means that he was formally marched in for a discipline hearing with his commanding officer.

Crotty, the 22-year-old soldier who viciously attacked Natasha O’Brien and later boasted about it online, was yesterday handed a fully-suspended sentence for the assault

He had entered a guilty plea before Judge Tom O’Donnell at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court. He had initially told gardaí that Ms O’Brien had instigated the attack, but admitted his guilt after gardaí showed Crotty CCTV footage of the incident.

Extensive CCTV footage showed the unprovoked assault when O’Brien remonstrated with Crotty for using homophobic slurs.

It is understood that the Irish Defence Forces process will ultimately be handled by the officer in command of One Brigade, Brigadier General Brian Cleary. 

Sources believe that a decision will be made on how the discipline process will unfold – either a unilateral decision to dismiss or a more detailed option of a formal courts martial leading to a sentence of dismissal.

Legally the courts martial procedure would be more sure footed and not lead to challenges, a number of sources have said. 

The military has its own independent judicial system in which personnel found guilty of wrongdoing can be fined, summarily dismissed and also sentenced to imprisonment. 

It is understood that the Defence Forces internal procedures do contain a measure to deal with a soldier, like Crotty, convicted of an offence in a civilian court. 

Tánaiste Micheál Martin who is also Minister for Defence, confirmed today that the process had commenced, which was first reported The Journal last night

The Irish Defence Forces have said they cannot comment on the process at this time but earlier did confirm it was underway. 

“We wish to address the conversation that is currently taking place on social media, as we are an organisation committed to honesty and transparency.

“Any conviction in a civilian court may have implications for the retention and service of members of the Defence Forces, as stipulated in Defence Forces Regulations. Once due process has been completed in a civilian court of law it becomes a matter for the relevant Defence Forces authorities, in accordance with Defence Forces Regulations.

“We can confirm that these proceedings have commenced and as such, it would be inappropriate to comment further on this specific case,” the statement read.

At yesterday’s sentence hearing Judge O’Donnell said Crotty’s membership of the military was a factor in his decision making to give a suspended sentence. 

He said Crotty deserved “no credit” for initially trying to deflect blame on Ms O’Brien but that he “must be given credit” for pleading guilty to assaulting Ms O’Brien, causing her harm, contrary to Section 3 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the State Act, which carries a maximum five-year jail sentence.

The judge remarked that he had a “huge judgement call to make” in respect of Crotty’s future.

He said he had to “take into account” that Crotty had no previous convictions; Crotty’s army career; that Crotty pleaded guilty early, which eliminated the necessity for a jury trial and the prolonged use of Garda and court resources; and that a trial would have compounded Ms O’Brien’s trauma.

“In fairness to him (Crotty), he has come to court and publicly admitted his wrongdoing, and he has made a public acknowledgement of his criminality,” the judge said.

Judge O’Donnell said a headline sentence was “five years” and he imposed a three-year sentence which he suspended in its entirety. He also ordered Crotty to pay €3,000 compensation to Ms O’Brien without prejudice to any potential civil court proceedings.

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