A 46-year-old Arranmore man has been given a six-month suspended sentence after being convicted of assault causing harm in an incident on the island eleven years ago.
Kieran Boyle of Leabgarrow, Arranmore, was before Letterkenny Circuit Court on a charge of assaulting Hugh O’Donnell on January 1, 2006.
Boyle has been working in England for some years now and had been due before the court in 2009, when he failed to appear. A bench warrant was subsequently issues and he was before the court in May, 2017.
O’Donnell, who is now 55, is also living in England and traveled back to be present in court, where he provided a victim impact statement.
Garda McGowan said that on January 2 2006, Hugh O’Donnell made a complaint of an assault that had happened on the morning of January 1, 2006.
Boyle and O’Donnell had been attending a disco on the island when ‘some kind of a row happened between them on the premises.’ After the incident, Boyle left the disco but O’Donnell remained.
Later that night, as Boyle overtook O’Donnell’s vehicle. The men stopped their vehicles, got out and a scuffle ensued.
A statement was read where O’Donnell described the incident: “He jumped out of the car and he went for me. He took a swing at me with his right fist. As he swung, I lost my footing and Kieran Boyle continued kicking me in the face. He was saying: ‘You fucking bastard, you pervert – that’s all you are.’”
O’Donnell went to the doctor to be examined and was transferred to Letterkenny General Hospital, where he was found to have sustained a broken nose, a broken cheekbone and a broken eye socket.
Boyle made a statement under caution, in which he said he was in John Boyle’s Disco in Leabgarrow and had been drinking Millar, Jack Daniels & Coke.
Boyle claimed that he went to shake the hand of O’Donnell when a scuffle broke out in the disco.
“All I can remember is us shoving one another,” he said. “I don’t know what time it was. It was getting bright when I left the disco and started driving back to Leabgarrow.
“I turned the car and was heading to have the craic with a friend. I saw a dark coloured keep coming behind me. It came up at speed as if it was going to ram my car. I stopped the car in the middle of the road and got out. The driver of the keep got out and the two of us started throwing punches.
“We fell on the side of the road, I got Hugh O’Donnell to the ground and punched him several times. I don’t believe that I kicked Hugh O’Donnell, but I gave him a few thumps. I got up from him and drove to my sister’s house to get cleared up.”
Boyle, who has no previous convictions, was working in England for long periods of time and occasionally came home to visit with his family on Arranmore.
Mr O’Donnell, in his victim impact statement, said that Boyle ‘showed no remorse for his actions’. He said: “To this day I feel intimidated by Kieran Boyle whenever we meet. I suffered depression after this brutal attack.
“For two years, I had great difficulty sleeping and I had flashbacks in relation to the attack. I didn’t recover from the physical damage to my face for six months.
“I just wish to have matter resolved and to try to get on with my life.”
Garda McGowan said that he felt it would be ‘the best case scenario’ if the two men avoided each other.
Barrister Kelda Doherty, representing Mr Boyle, said: “Mr O’Donnell entered into a relationship with the ex-partner of the defendant. It might have magnified or exacerbated any apparent feeling. He didn’t set out to cause violence.
“He did seek to extend a hand in a bid to reconcile any differences. Mr O’Donnell refused to shake his hand. Regrettably the defendant responded in an inexcusable manner and a melee ensued. Drink had been taken and matters took an opportunistic turn. Emotions got the better of him and emotions overrode his senses. He showed a complete lack of self-control.
“This was out of character for the defendant. This has caused the defendant a lot of embarrassment and the matter has been hanging over him for 11 years.”
Boyle, who has a daughter on Arranmore, works shifts as a miner in London and works 12 days in-a-row on his shift.
In the witness box, Boyle turned to O’Donnell to apologise, saying: “I’m sorry for what happened between us. I wish I could turn back time. I’m very sorry for what happened.”
Judge John O’Hagan, noting that the case was historic in that it occurred in 2006, said: “There isn’t good feeling between these two men.
“The island is very community orientated and relationships are closely interlinked. When trouble or bad feeling breaks out, it can be unpleasant simply because families all know each other intimately. Even though Mr Boyle has been out of the island for some time now, there is still a bit of tension.
“I have no doubt that he wants to get it out of the way but I can’t brush it under the carpet. it is something that will live with him for rest of days. When drink is in sense is out, or indeed emotions.”
Judge O’Hagan gave Boyle a six-month suspended sentence and fined him €500 on entering a bond of €100 of his own to keep the peace for 12 months.