Jail sentence for unprovoked attack on terrified students

Two men received prison sentences this week for launching an unprovoked attack on three students who were forced to split up and run away in fear.

Already serving a lengthy sentence in prison, Tommy Folan (26 ) of 42 St James Crescent, Mervue received a further three-month sentence for assaulting one of the students, while his co-accused, David Burke (20 ) of 227 Castlepark, Ballybane, received 10 months after Judge Mary Fahy reactivated a suspended sentence for a previous conviction.

At Galway District Court on Monday Folan pleaded guilty to assault at Michael Collins Road on February 26, 2010, while a charge of threatening and abusive behaviour was withdrawn. Burke pleaded guilty to criminal damage to the windscreen of a car, and to threatening and abusive behaviour at the same date and location, while a charge for possession of a knife was withdrawn. He had also been charged with the theft of a bottle of Buckfast at Centra, Lough Atalia Road, on June 20, 2010.

Inspector Mick Coppinger told the court that at 4.20am gardai were called to Michael Collins Road where they met three male students. They had been walking home when they had been verbally abused by the two defendants. They became frightened by the intensity of the abuse and decided to split up and run with the intention of meeting back at their home. However, one of the students didn’t make it home. The other two students, who were inside the house, heard a car window break outside. When they went out to investigate the source of the noise they found the defendants waiting for them. During this encounter one of the students was head-butted by Folan. When gardai arrived at the scene Burke admitted to breaking the windscreen of the car.

Folan’s solicitor Tomas McHale said that his client had had a lot of drink taken and that he is currently serving a 21-month sentence which was imposed in January of this year. Mr McHale said that this latest incident had been “drink fuelled”.

“It is a very very serious matter. Students were on their way home and these two decided to attack them, assault one for no reason other than intoxication, that’s no excuse. It was a totally unprovoked attack,” replied Judge Fahy who was then told that Folan has 49 previous convictions. She convicted Folan and imposed a three-month sentence to be served on lawful termination of the sentence being served.

The court then heard that Burke had paid for the €275 worth of damage caused to the car. Defence solicitor Olivia Traynor said that her client has had difficulties in the past and that the court has given Burke many chances. She added that Burke, who no longer associates with Folan, was given a 10-month sentence suspended for two years in March 2010 for possession of drugs for sale or supply and that she doesn’t believe he is a person who is likely to re-offend.

“He went out in February and caused this criminal damage and abused and insulted these people. Then he goes out on June 20 and steals alcohol. There’s no point putting sanctions on him if he is not even going to bother dealing with his issues... I gave him a chance which was very unusual at the time, the garda went out of his way to help. My hands are tied, I have to re-activate the sentence,” said Judge Fahy who then reactivated the 10-month sentence and imposed a further four months, to run concurrently, for the criminal damage, public order, and theft offence. Leave to appeal was granted.

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