Fisherman charged with stabbing warned to stop ‘codding the court’

A Connemara fisherman charged with stabbing a man during a drunken scuffle over two years ago was warned by a circuit court judge to stop “codding the court” and to take his alcohol difficulties seriously in order to avoid a jail sentence.

In giving the warning this week Judge Raymond Groarke said that the 32-year-old man had treated the court and the injured party with “utter disdain” by claiming that he had made all efforts to get into a residential treatment programme, that he was allowed to have a few drinks, and by offering a measly €2,000 in compensation.

An unimpressed Judge Groarke ordered Joseph Casey of Ardmore, Kilkerrin, Connemara, to provide a further €10,000 as a “real concrete expression of remorse” by today and further adjourned the case to July 15 by which time the accused must provide proof that he has been admitted or has completed a residential treatment programme.

Casey, a fisherman by profession, pleaded guilty to assault of Kieran Fahy causing him harm on February 24, 2008, at Foster Street, Galway. On Tuesday the Galway Circuit Criminal Court heard how on that date gardai received a call to go to A&E at UHG where they spoke to the injured party who had been stabbed on the lower left leg. Garda Gary Ryan said that on March 5, 2008, Casey was arrested at his home and brought to Galway Garda Station for questioning.

State barrister Conor Fahy said that the injured party had met his girlfriend outside the Forster Court Hotel, that they began to argue, and they then encountered Casey near An Pucan pub where a scuffle broke out. “They were shaping up to one another, trading blows,” said Mr Fahy to which Garda Ryan replied that both males argued, fell to the ground between two parked cars, and the injured party felt blood trickling down his leg. Garda Ryan said that Casey has not come to Garda notice before or after the incident, and that he had co-operated fully with gardai.

Defence barrister John Hogan BL, said that it would be the practice of fishermen to carry a knife with them after finishing work and that it had not been Casey’s intention to cause harm. Mr Hogan said that Mr Fahy and Casey started rowing and it is “unclear who threw the first punch”.

The injured party, now 23, told Judge Groarke how the injuries left him with scars and has prevented him from playing soccer as the leg now “cramps up and gets sore”. He added that he was unable to fully complete his electrician appreticeship and suffered a loss of earnings of €14,000.

Mr Hogan said that his client, who has a serious alcohol problem and is of limited means, is extremely remorseful and had brought €2,000 into court. Mr Hogan also said that Casey has been visiting an addiction counsellor weekly since October and had been attempting to get into a residential treatment programme.

Taking the stand, Casey apologised to Mr Fahy “for the damage caused”. However when Casey implied that he was given the go ahead by his addiction counsellor to have a few drinks Judge Groarke immediately described the remark as an “absolute farce”. Casey then admittted that his counsellor had never told him this. Casey then said that he had tried to get into a residential treatment programme because he thought “it would look good for the court”. His barrister then explained that Casey was “somewhat confused” and that he is lacking an insight into the extent of his drinking problem. Mr Hogan said that Casey made valiant efforts to attend an addiction counsellor of his own accord, to get into a programme, and that he was entitled to credit for that.

After hearing the evidence Judge Groarke said that this man, who was in possession of a serious weapon, “gets out of his mind with drink”, becomes involved in a fight, and his response was to stab his opponent three times.

“It was a savage, cowardly, and criminal thing to do... If Mr Casey has remorse he would have dealt with the primary cause, and that was his drinking, but he tried to cod the court. He has no insight into the fact he is an alcoholic and that when he has taken too much drink he is prone to committing serious crime... To add insult to injury he brings in €2,000 for the man he stabbed three times. I am far from impressed,” said Judge Groarke who then gave a short adjournement to allow Casey to instruct his barrister further.

When the case resumed Mr Hogan said that Casey would be able to gather an additional €10,000 and that he is willing to undertake a residential treatment programme.

Judge Groarke warned that this is an offence that “merits three years” before making an order for the €2,000 to be handed into court, for a further €10,000 be paid by today, and adjourning the case.

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