€6,750 dental bill for woman caught in crossfire

Man given 13-month suspended sentence for pub assaults

A woman who got caught in the crossfire of a pub brawl got the full force of a punch straight in to the mouth, seriously damaging her teeth, and will require dental work estimated to cost more than €6,700, the Galway District Court heard this week.

The court was told on Monday how Phillip Melia had gone to Coyote’s Bar in Forster Street where a dispute erupted between him and another man who was then hit in the head. However, when the man dodged a second blow a woman standing nearby was hit instead resulting in serious injury to her teeth.

Phillip Melia (32 ) with an address at Clonboo, Corrandulla, Galway, pleaded guilty to assaulting Brian Daly, causing him harm, and assaulting Regina Penel, causing her harm, on October 10, 2009.

Inspector Mick Coppinger told the court that the defendant had been out socialising in Coyote’s Bar when he met Mr Daly. Mr Daly then accused Melia of getting him fired from a job and an altercation ensued. Words were exchanged between the fighting pair before the defendant struck out, knocking Mr Daly to the ground, while Ms Penel got hit. The inspector then handed in a medical report which showed the extent of the damage caused to Ms Penel’s teeth.

Melia’s solicitor said that in the lead up to the incident there had been ongoing problems between his client and Mr Daly, that they had worked together, and that Mr Daly “seems to think my client got him fired”. The court then heard that Melia, who has minor previous convictions for public order and road traffic matters, had been drinking while out at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair earlier that day and that when he was accused at Coyote’s he “was riled” and “unfortunately did snap”.

Mr Daly later told Judge Mary Fahy that he did not know the defendant before this incident and that Melia had come at him from behind. Regarding Ms Penel, who was not present in court, Mr Daly explained that she had been facing him when Melia hit the back of his head, and that when a second blow was struck he ducked and unfortunately Ms Penel got the full force of the blow. Mr Daly later added that Melia mistook him for someone who had threatened his brother.

Referring to the medical report Judge Fahy noted that the damage to Ms Penel’s teeth was extensive and that the dental bill is estimated to come to €6,750.

Melia’s solicitor then said this was a “drink induced” incident and that since then his client, who is an unemployed father of three, has been taking steps to address his issues with alcohol and depression.

Noting that there was little chance of compensation Judge Fahy said that she had little choice but to impose a custodial sentence. For the assaults Melia was convicted and sentenced to a total of 13 months, suspended for two years on condition that he enter into a bond of €500 to be of good behaviour, to have no contact with the injured parties in any way, and to stay away from Coyote’s Bar.

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