A man who brutally attacked a young woman leaving her unable to recognise herself has been ordered to pay her €10,000 to stay out of jail.
Gavin Gallagher viciously attacked Dearbla Adams after downing ten pints and five shorts during an all-day drinking session.
The 26-year-old left the pub and then insulted Ms Adams as she was waiting to be collected with her boyfriend by her mother in the village of Dunfanaghy.
When her boyfriend objected to Gallagher’s insults, a row ensued.
During the argument on the night of June 25th, 2018, Gallagher grabbed Ms Adams by the neck and smashed her face into the ground.
She was rushed to hospital where she suffered serious damage to her front teeth and face.
She looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise herself because her injuries were so severe with swelling and abrasions.
Dentists told her that it would cost her at least €6,000 to get two implants to replace her damaged teeth.
Gallagher, of Greenhill, Dunfanaghy, was arrested on June 28th, 2018 and interviewed about the assault on Ms Adams.
Garda Sergeant John Gallagher told Letterkenny Circuit Court that statements from witnesses indicated that the accused was very drunk, brushed into Ms Adams and then said to her “you’re a wild looking c**t” and a row started.
Gallagher was interviewed twice and during the second interview he accepted the circumstances but said he never deliberately meant to hurt Ms Adams.
Sgt Gallagher said he was based in Dunfanaghy for a number of years and accepted that the accused came from a decent family, was a hard-working young man who had no previous convictions.
The court was also told how Gallagher had €6,300 to offer as compensation to Ms Adams to pay for her dental treatment.
A victim impact statement read out on behalf of the victim revealed how her life has changed utterly since the attack.
She told how she can only eat soft foods, was forced to cancel exams in college because she missed so many classes, felt vulnerable and unsafe and didn’t want to go near crowds.
Ms Adams said she still suffers flashbacks and has nightmares and “felt like a shell of a human just waking up to go back to sleep again.”
Her dental bills stacked up but she lost her part-time job because of her fear of going out and how she looked.
She added “This assault has completely changed my life and I will have to deal with that for the rest of my life.”
Gallagher took to the witness stand and apologised to his victim saying “I would like to sincerely apologise to Dearbhla and I never intended to cause her any harm. I’m extremely sorry.”
Barrister for the accused, Mr Peter Nolan said Gallagher was rightly disgusted with himself but said his remorse was genuine.
He added “It will be reported and it will reignite all this for him and it is rightly so in my opinion. It was appalling behaviour.”
He added that Gallagher was very drunk on the night and had lost it but that he now only drinks once a month when he is out for a meal with his girlfriend and then it is only three bottles of beer.
Judge John Aylmer said the psychological effects of the attack on Ms Adams were even more concerning as the physical hurt as bad as her injuries were.
He said “He admitted to his involvement and assault, he inflicted an appalling injury on this young lady. His only explanation is that he was out of his mind in drink on the night and that is what caused him to behave like an utter thug.”
He added that he placed the offence in the mid-range of such offences and that it merited a sentence of three years in prison.
However, on mitigation, Gallagher was a relatively young man with no previous convictions, came from a good family, was a hard worker, was remorseful and had come to court with €6,300 to offer his victim.
Because of this, he would reduce that three-year sentence to one of two years saying te probation report said that Gallagher was placed as being a low risk of reoffending.
However, Judge Aylmer said because of this and the fact that Gallagher was obviously disgusted with himself, he merited a second chance.
He said he was adjourning the case for two years to allow Gallagher to pay his victim a further €10,000.
If that money was before the court by January, 2022, then Judge Aylmer said he proposed to suspend the sentence.