A youth who smashed a bottle before thrusting it into the face of a teenager twice, has been returned to jail after his original three year jail term was deemed too lenient.
Patrick Harty (21), with a last address at Shandon Halting Site, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm at a house party in the county on New Year's Eve, 2014. He also pleaded guilty to an unprovoked assault on a man in Dungarvan on September 1, 2015.
Harty was sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment with the final 18 months suspended by Judge Eugene O’Kelly on October 28, 2016. He was given a concurrent 12 month jail term for the second assault and no compensation order was made.
The Court of Appeal returned Harty to jail for an extra year this afternoon on foot of an application for a review of sentence brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions on grounds it was “unduly lenient”. He was resentenced to six-and-a-half years imprisonment with the final two-and-a-half years suspended, involving consecutive sentences for both assaults.
Giving judgment, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said Harty and some friends had arrived uninvited at a party on New Years Eve.
An argument ensued and Harty tried to punch one of the victim’s friends but missed.
The injured party, who was 19 at the time, asked Harty and his friends to leave. As he turned away, Harty thrust a glass bottle into his face and eye area twice. He had broken the previously intact bottle immediately prior to thrusting it into his face, which was an aggravating factors, as it made the already dangerous weapon much more serious.
The victim’s father was a paramedic, was on-duty, and was among those dispatched to the scene only to find it was his son which had been injured. The victim required a number of surgeries. Despite this, he has lost the use of his eye.
Harty left the area and was subsequently arrested. He made admissions at interview and expressed remorse.
Mr Justice Birmingham said the second assault in Dungarvan was “utterly unprovoked” and the only motive appeared to be that the victim had distinctive long black hair halfway down his back and a long triangular beard. Harty was identified as the man who hit the injured the party and caused cuts above his eye.
The idea that someone, who was involved in something so serious as to cause a 19-year-old to lose an eye, would engage in “gratuitous violence” months later, was “very disturbing”. It called into question the remorse expressed after the first incident, the judge said.
Mr Justice Birmingham said Harty came from a Traveller background and his childhood was very dysfunctional. He had witnessed the fatal electrocution of a cousin when he was five years old and had been exposed to a great deal of violence as a result of feuds between Traveller families.
He was 17 at the time of the first assault and 18 at the time of the second assault.
Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Noel Whelan SC, said the first attack was distinguished by it's viciousness. He said the sentencing judge "mitigated, suspended and made concurrent," falling into error at each step.
Mr Justice Birmingham said the Court of Appeal agreed. He said the two-year discount from a low starting point (of six-and-a-half years) and the further reduction by way of a suspension of the final 18 months gave rise to a sentence that was “unduly lenient”.
The fact that Harty’s sentence for the second assault was made concurrent, was “simply one discount too many in favour of the accused.”
He said a consecutive sentence should have been imposed in a situation where the two assaults were separated by several months.
Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Ms Justice Máire Whelan and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, resentenced Harty to six-and-a-half years imprisonment with the final two-and-a-half years suspended, leaving him with a net jail term of four years.