Man to pay €3,000 compensation for punch that ripped victim’s lip wide open

A Craughwell man has been ordered to come up with €3,000 worth of compensation for the serious injury caused to a man whose lip was ripped open when hit, with force, by a signet ring.

The Galway District Court heard yesterday how on St Stephen’s night in 2009 the 26-year-old defendant had taken offence to the injured party talking to his girlfriend in a cab office and then launched the attack punching him straight into the face.

Iain Prendergast with an address at Coldwood, Craughwell, pleaded guilty to assaulting Robert Neary and causing him harm at Oran Cabs, Main Street, Oranmore, on December 26, 2009, and has been given until July 11 to come up with €3,000 in compensation.

Garda Shane Waldron told the court that Mr Neary had contacted gardai on December 28, 2009, and complained that he had been assaulted at the cab office at around 10pm on December 26. He told gardai that he had been “struck into the upper lip” and that this resulted in his receiving a total of six stitches, four of which were external, and that the lip had to be re-aligned during corrective surgery.

The court further heard that Mr Neary had entered the cab office to enquire about going into the city centre but after speaking to staff he noticed a girl he recognised and went to speak to her. Suddenly Prendergast, who was the girl’s boyfriend, got up and struck Mr Neary in the face a number of times.

Garda Waldron said that he contacted Prendergast who then called to the Garda station immediately and had admitted hitting Mr Neary “once into the lip”. Prendergast, who has no previous convictions, also told gardai that he hit Mr Neary because he had been “annoying my girlfriend”.

“This is a pretty serious assault,” noted Judge Aeneas McCarthy.

Defence solicitor Sarah O’Dowd stressed that her client had not come to Garda notice since this incident and that he had brought €1,600 to offer as compensation to the injured party. She said that Prendergast apologised to Mr Neary straight away when he realised the extent of the injury.

“He can’t justify his behaviour, he says it was a single punch and his signet ring may have caused the injury,” said Ms O’Dowd, who added that Prendergast is a qualified carpenter.

Referring to the medical report before him Judge McCarthy noted that the laceration Mr Neary received had gone “right through his mouth, it was wide open from inside to the outside”.

Mr Neary then told Judge McCarthy that following the treatment for the injury he still suffers from a “constant numb feeling” in his lip and that during cold weather there is often “an awful sensation of stinging”. Mr Neary added that the scar feels a lot bigger to him and that “I was quite a confident person, always, until this scar was put on my face”.

“It was a foolish decision, made in the heat of the moment. He has no history of this, he did immediately apologise. It wasn’t his intent to cause injury,” said Ms O’Dowd, who then asked Judge McCarthy to adjourn the matter to allow for more compensation to be paid.

“If he hit someone with that force what did he expect would happen? This is the type of assault that would normally attract a custodial sentence. This was a very serious assault,” replied Judge McCarthy, who after consideration adjourned the case to July 11 and ordered Prendergast to come up with a total of €3,000 in compensation.


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