Assault victim left with fate worse than death.
A youth who shouted “die you bastard, die” as he seriously assaulted a man in his 60s, leaving him in residential care and a “fate worse then death”, has lost an appeal against the severity of his six year jail term.
Graham Meagher (21), with an address at Kilcaroon, Clogheen, Co Tipperary, had pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm to PJ Kelly (66) at that address on June 12, 2014.
Mr Kelly suffered brain damage as a result of the serious assault with a pokerstand. He cannot communicate, is currently in residential care and may have to be retaught how to do basic human tasks.
Meagher was sentenced to eight years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Judge Thomas Teehan at Clonmel Circuit Criminal Court on May 10, 2016
He lost an appeal against his sentence today(Friday) with the Court of Appeal holding that this case was “almost a text book example” of a serious assault of the most serious kind.
Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said Meagher lived with Mr Kelly at a home that was used by individuals described as having a bad influence on Meagher.
Mr Justice Mahon said Meagher’s father came to collect him on the day in question and, when he was awoken, he noticed some of his personal belongings were missing.
Meagher was wrongly convinced his property was stolen by Mr Kelly and he came downstairs and he subjected Mr Kelly to a very serious and violent assautl. Meagher struck Mr Kelly a number of times with a pokerstand and, as he was doing so, shouted “die you bastard, die”.
Mr Kelly sustained a devastating brain injury and is now in residential care. He will never recover from the injuries he suffered and will always be dependent on others.
Mr Justice Mahon said the assault appeared to be out of character for Meagher. Although he had a number of road traffic convictions, he had no previous convictions for violence.
The offence was committed weeks after he turned 18 and he came from a dysfunctional background.
Mr Justice Mahon said there could be no doubt that the assault was very serious by any measure. He said the words uttered by Meagher - “die you bastard, die” - and the dreadful consequences suffered by Mr Kelly “combined to make that observation obvious, if not understated”.
Mr Justice George Birmingham remarked during counsel’s submissions that “phrases such as a fate worse than death come to mind” referring to Mr Kelly’s injuries. Mr Justice Birmingham said the consequences for Mr Kelly were “shocking”. He suffered brain damage to the extent that he cannot communicate and would be institutionalised for the rest of his life.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Kelly’s family said their husband, father and grandfather would answer yes or no to certain questions but when asked the same questions again, the answers my be different.
Medical staff are not sure how much he understands and he may have to be retaught how to do basic human things. He will never be able to live alone again.
Continuing with his judgment, Mr Justice Mahon said criticism of the sentencing judge for placing the offence in the highest range of seriousness was entirely misconceived.
He said a a ferocious assault with a heavy metal poker stand, which left the unfortunate victim with devastating consequences, was “almost a text book example” of a serious assault of the most serious type.
Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Hedigan, said a sentence of eight years with two suspended was within the judge’s discretion (and within the range envisaged by the Court of Criminal Appeal in DPP - v - Fitzgibbon), and suggested no error in principle. The appeal was therefore dismissed.