Man accused of racial bottling on St Patrick's Day is up for sentencing next week

A youth who bottled a Spanish student in the face on St Patrick’s Day saying “This is our day, not yours”, had his sentencing postponed for a week to see if he could come up with € 3,500 in compensation.

Judge Seamus Hughes was taken somewhat aback when he was told that Mark Hewitt (20 ), of Hall’s Bridge, Athlone, had drunk a litre of Jack Daniels in the hours before the assault.

“For a man of that body mass? What weight are you? Seven stones?” enquired the judge.

“Eight,” corrected the defendant.

Earlier, the court heard how there had been two groups on the town square on the day in question, and that, following an alleged previous incident between them, Hewitt had carried out the assault on the student with an empty bottle of Budweiser he broke to form a weapon.

The victim received a gash to the side of the jaw, which required stitching in Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, and a follow-up consultation in UCHG.

Inspector Nicholas Farrell told that Hewitt was seen on CCTV, and had made a full admission a few days later once he sobered up.

“He was quite remorseful, and he claims he’s suffered flashbacks since,” said the inspector.

Defending solicitor, Mr Padraig Quinn, tried to tell the court that his client had been provoked during a scuffle between the groups, but the judge refused to allow this argument be entered at this late stage.

“I don’t want to know about it, unless you wish to rely upon it [in a jury trial]. You’ll bring this boy back from Spain? This was a totally unprovoked bottling in this man’s face. You’ve left it too late in the day to rely on this, some sort of lame excuse,” declared the judge.

Mr Quinn pointed out his client pleaded guilty as soon as he could, co-operated fully with the gardaí, and is: “deeply troubled by the incident”.

Judge Hughes, however, was still troubled by Hewitt’s consumption .

“Any mature man twice, or three times his age who’d drink a litre of Jack Daniels in two and a half hours, it’s a horrific amount of alcohol,” said the judge shaking his head.

Mr Quinn pointed out how Hewitt had been attending addiction counselling since the attack, but the judge wasn’t fully convinced as to its merits.

“If he was out picking stones on an island in Clew Bay, or picking litter in Athlone, at least you could measure that,” he said.

“A busy young lout walks down the main street in Athlone, and smashes a man in the face with a broken bottle, and with a body mass that should’ve been drinking three bottles of Fanta,’ exclaimed Judge Hughes.

“I want to make a bit of an eejit out of your client, Mr Quinn,” he stated.

Enquiring after his family, Judge Hughes asked Hewitt: “Have you said goodbye to them?”

Mr Quinn pointed out his client was on €192 dole a week, of which he gave €70 to his mother.

“And he hasn’t saved one red cent since towards compensation? My hands are tied. If I send him to the holiday camp his mother will be down €70 a week, and if he had put that amount aside each week he’d have €3,500 in court. And that’s the minimum,” said the judge.

“I want his mother in here to see if she can do without the €70 a week,” said Judge Hughes, before adjourning sentencing until February 20.


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