A man was knocked to the ground unconscious when he received an unprovoked punch to the head at the end of a night out in Clonmel, the Circuit Criminal Court has heard.
Juris Strals (25) of 4 St Kevin’s Park, Littleton, Thurles received an 18 month suspended jail term at the recent session of the Circuit Court and was told by Judge Helen Boyle he was very lucky the victim didn’t suffer a more serious injury such as brain damage.
The victim was Jack Cremins, who Mr Strals pleaded guilty to assaulting and harming at Parnell Street, Clonmel in the early hours of March 9, 2019.
Sgt Kieran O’Regan told the court Mr Cremins socialised with friends in Baker’s Bar in Parnell Street in Clonmel that night and later went to O’Keeffe’s Nightclub.
He and two friends went to the Parnell Grill on Parnell Street around 2.30am.
One of his friends went into the chipper and he and the other friend were talking outside on the street when he received a punch to his left ear.
Mr Cremins was “knocked out” when he hit the ground.
He didn’t know how long he was unconscious and when he woke up he had no recollection of the assault.
He was brought to South Tipperary General Hospital and didn’t need any stitches for his head wound.
He returned to hospital to get an X-ray and also went to his GP as he felt “groggy”.
Garda David Pearse viewed CCTV footage of the area around the fast-food outlet and saw Juris Strals.
Mr Strals was arrested on June 27, 2019 and was brought to Thurles Garda Station where he admitted striking Mr Cremins.
He admitted what he did was due to being intoxicated from drinking a lot that day.
He had two previous convictions, one for a public order offence imposed at Thurles District Court on November 11, 2019 and the other for a minor road traffic offence.
Sgt O’Regan said Mr Cremins had made a full recovery.
He didn’t wish to make a victim impact statement or attend court for the hearing of the case.
Sgt O’Regan replied “yes” when asked by defence barrister Kevin Byrne whether Mr Strals co-operated with gardaí and expressed remorse for the assault.
Mr Byrne said his client was intoxicated on the night he committed the assault but has been sober in recent times.
He was aware he faced a custodial sentence for this “unprovoked attack” and was willing to do what the court asked of him to lessen the chances of that.
He worked in the building trade but was not working at the moment.
He didn’t come to court with compensation but was hopeful of being able to raise €1,000 in the new year when things picked up.
The barrister pointed out that his client expressed his remorse from an early stage and came forward to the Circuit Court on a signed plea of guilty.
The Probation Service report prepared on his client assessed him as posing a low risk of re-offending.
He was married with two children.
He appealed to Judge Boyle to show leniency towards Mr Strals in the sentence she imposed.
Judge Boyle asked Mr Byrne if Mr Strals realised how lucky he was that the injuries Mr Cremins suffered weren’t more serious.
She noted the one-punch assault Mr Cremins suffered had the potential to cause him serious brain damage.
Mr Byrne replied that yes his client was aware of that.
Judge Boyle continued: “Even if it’s just one punch it can have devastating consequences, especially when you fall and lose consciousness as this man did.” The defence barrister submitted that Mr Strals had no history of violence prior to this incident and his two previous convictions were for minor offences.
In summing up the case before imposing sentence, Judge Boyle reiterated Mr Cremins was lucky he didn’t suffer a head fracture or more serious injury.
She read to the court a medical report on Mr Cremins following the assault, which detailed that he suffered a contusion to the left ear, a laceration on his forehead, loss of consciousness and concussion.
The photos she had seen of the harm caused to Mr Cremins showed bleeding from his head and down his face. Thankfully he had made a full recovery.
She said the assault causing harm offence committed by Mr Strals warranted three years’ imprisonment, which she reduced to an 18 months’ prison term due to his guilty plea and taking into consideration the principal of proportionality in sentencing.
She suspended the entirety of the 18 months’ jail term on condition he kept the peace and paid €1,000 compensation to the victim during that 18 months.