A Drumshanbo man who “viciously assaulted” another man by punching him and breaking his nose had “to be dragged kicking and screaming to the point he pleaded guilty” said Judge Kevin Kilrane at Carrick-on-Shannon District Court last week.
Luke Tuite, 15 Hillcrest Grove, Drumshanbo pleaded guilty to a Section 3 assault on Declan Keating at High St, Drumshanbo on March 18, 2019.
The case originally came before the court on November 2, 2020 where full evidence was heard. The case was then adjourned for a psychiatric report and a probation report on the defendant.
In the court last November, Sgt Michael Gallagher outlined the facts. He said the victim in this case had been socialising on St Patrick's Day and at 12.40am on the following morning he phoned his father to collect him.
While waiting, he struck up a conversation with some people on High St in the vicinity of Monica's pub. The defendant was taking part in the conversation and got increasingly angry with Mr Keating to such a point that the victim apologised to him to calm him down, even though he didn't think he'd said anything to warrant the anger being shown by Mr Tuite.
Mr Tuite then punched the victim once in the face and retreated into Monica's pub and closed the front door.
Mr Keating suffered a broken nose. His father tried to carry out first aid on him and he was treated at NowDoc and later at the A&E in Sligo Hospital. The doctor said there was a 1cm laceration on his nose, bruising on his right eye and there may have been a nasal bone fracture.
The court heard the victim was struck by a left hook to the right side of his face, his nose was gushing blood and was clearly out of place.
Sgt Gallagher said that when interviewed by Garda Redahan, Mr Tuite said he thought Mr Keating's father might have broken his nose when trying to fix it. He did not acknowledge any part in the assault and could not remember if they had an argument. He said they were both intoxicated.
In his victim impact statement read out in court, Mr Keating said he had stopped to talk to two people and Luke Tuite was also there. He said there was no provocation and he struck him in the face. He said his nose is still offset, his breathing is now restricted, he has difficulty sleeping and it is painful when he blows his nose or washes his face.
Mr Keating said he wonders what might have happened if he'd fallen and hit his head on the concrete. He described it as an unprovoked attack that has changed his life.
The court heard Mr Tuite has a previous conviction from Carrick-on-Shannon District Court from May 2019 where he was disqualified for 11 months for no insurance and fined €100 for having no driving licence.
At last week’s sitting, solicitor, Martin Burke, said Mr Tuite is 21 years old and lives with his partner and two young children. He said he has no history of offending for any type of violence.
He accepted it was something he didn’t plan to do, but did nonetheless. He lost his cool and there was history between them.
Judge Kilrane asked what history was between them and Mr Burke replied that they wouldn’t have got along.
He said Mr Tuite has expressed remorse, albeit at a late stage, and has taken full responsibility for what happened.
He asked the Judge to consider some other form of restorative justice other than a custodial sentence which he said would have a severe impact on the defendant’s family.
Mr Burke said Mr Tuite has seen a psychiatrist and has struggled with anger issues in the past.
Judge Kilrane said Mr Tuite’s apology and remorse were qualified as he said he was provoked and that he didn’t break the victim’s nose, it was his father who did it by treating it after the assault.
Mr Tuite told the court it shouldn’t have happened.
Judge Kilrane asked him why it happened and he replied, “It was just a moment of madness” and “words were exchanged.” He said he now accepted he broke Mr Keating’s nose.
Judge Kilrane said the defendant “viciously, without warning and without provocation” assaulted the young man.
He said it was particularly nasty as the victim was not prepared for it and had no time to defend himself.
He said Mr Tuite has serious anger problems and the report from the psychiatrist said he self-harmed regularly, two or three times a week, by punching walls.
“He can punch the walls to his heart’s content but he can’t punch people,” said the Judge.
Judge Kilrane said Mr Tuite’s approach at the beginning was one of denial and then he was dragged from that by saying he did it but was provoked, and from that, that he did it but didn’t really hurt him or break his nose, his father did it while treating it.
The Judge said he showed no remorse at the interview stage and still showed no remorse.
He described Mr Tuite’s answers as “minimalist” and he “had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the point that he had no option but to plead guilty.”
Judge Kilrane said that Mr Tuite should go to prison for a term starting at the maximum of 12 months before taking into account mitigating circumstances.
He said those mitigating circumstances are that he has no previous convictions for violence, he has pleaded guilty, his family circumstances, and his mental state.
Judge Kilrane said he was prepared to leave him without an actual sentence and convicted and sentenced him to nine months, suspended on his own bond of €100. A certificate of legal aid was granted.