DPP v O'Keeffe
 IECA 24
THE COURT OF APPEAL
219/2013 - Peart Birmingham Edwards - Court of Appeal - 18/12/2014 - 2014 16 4558 2014 IECA 24
NON-FATAL OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON ACT 1997 S3
MISUSE OF DRUGS ACT 1977 S15
Criminal law - Assault causing harm - Seriousness of offence - Physical and psychological injuries of the victim - Appeal against severity of sentence - Whether error of principle - Mitigating factors
This is an appeal by the appellant, in this case Alan O'Keeffe, against the severity of a sentence of four years imprisonment, with one year of it suspended, imposed upon him at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court on 1st October 2013 in respect of an offence of assault causing harm contrary to s. 3 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.
The assault in question arose out of an incident which occurred in the Anchor Bar in Dungarvan when the appellant was involved in an unprovoked attack on a young man called Alan Hogan, in which the appellant used a glass which was smashed into Mr. Hogan's face, thereby causing him severe and permanent injury.
The appellant was convicted by a jury on 10th May 2013 and was subsequently sentenced by the learned sentencing judge on 1st October 2013. The trial at which the appellant was convicted was a second trial. There had been an earlier trial at which the jury had disagreed.
The appeal is brought on the basis that the learned trial judge erred in principle in two main respects. It is alleged that in fixing the position of the offending conduct on the scale of seriousness appropriate to an s. 3 offence, he rated it too highly. It is also suggested that in imposing sentence the learned trial judge made insufficient allowance for the mitigating factors in the case, particularly the appellant's personal circumstances, his efforts at rehabilitation, his relatively minor previous record and the fact that he had expressed remorse and had made available the sum of €15,000 by way of restitution.
It is important to outline in a little more detail what were the facts of the case. The injured party, Mr. Hogan, was part of a group that was socialising with, and saying farewell to, one of their number who was about to go to Australia. They had been out for a meal and were having a few drinks after the meal and ended up at about 11 p.m. on the night in question, which was 10th May 2008, in the Anchor Bar in Dungarvan. They had just arrived in the premises and were proceeding towards the bar. Now, the appellant was also present in the Anchor Bar and he was part of another group that were participating in a stag party. As the injured party's group entered the Anchor Bar it seems that somebody in that group may have brushed off a member of the other group. The injured party turned around and as he turned around he was suddenly, and without any provocation offered by him, struck with a glass in the face by the appellant. Although the details were somewhat vague, the evidence before the court indicated that there may have been a prior altercation of some sort involving other...
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