A former Irish international boxer broke a man’s jaw after some playful ‘shadow-boxing’ in a bar turned nasty.
Leon Gallagher struck Andrew Gallagher so hard that he broke his jaw in three places.
The victim required hospital care and had to eat soup for his Christmas dinner because the pain was so intense.
The 22-year-old accused man appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court in Co Donegal where he pleaded guilty to assault causing harm at McKelvey’s Bar, Ballybofey on December 16th, 2019.
The court heard the men had known eachother as they had boxed together as teenagers.
Leon Gallagher lost his temper during what was initially a bit of horseplay and claimed that Andrew Gallagher had punched his brother.
CCTV footage showed the accused getting the victim in a headlock and delivering a number of blows.
Andrew Gallagher was rushed to hospital and had to receive extensive treatment.
In his victim impact statement, he said his jaw had been “throbbing” after being struck by Leon Gallagher.
“I was in very severe pain. I couldn’t open or close my jaw,” he said.
He said the pain was worse in the cold weather and that his entire Christmas and that of his family had been ruined as a result of the assault.
Mr Gallagher, who is a social care worker, is also a sheep farmer and works part-time in a bar.
He had to take weeks of work and lost an estimated €7,550 in earnings including having to pay a man to look after his sheep.
He said he had been a sociable young man but the attack had affected him mentally.
The accused, with an address at Cuilara, Belcara, Castlebar, County Mayo, but who is originally from Ballybofey, had brought €2,000 in compensation to court.
He apologised from the witness stand to his victim who was sitting at the back of the courtroom.
“I’m terribly sorry and hopefully we can become friends again after this.
“I never meant it to happen,” he said.
His barrister, Ms Fiona Crawford, BL, said alcohol had been a factor and stressed that her client had contacted the victim the following day by Facebook to apologise and said he would sort any medical bills he had.
She added her client had been an international boxer for Ireland but had to give up the sport after he broke his hand and had got into trouble.
However, he was a plasterer by trade and hoped to return to work shortly.
He was now in a stable relationship in Co Mayo and had become a father with his partner in January of this year.
He was now in counselling to address his alcohol abuse.
Passing sentence Judge Aylmer described the assault as a “very serious offence” which he placed it in the mid-range of such offences.
“He was a member of the Irish boxing team. These fists are fairly lethal weapons in these circumstances.
“A sportsman engaged in boxing knows that it’s imperative that he not use his fists other than in the pursuit of his sporting activities,” said Judge Aylmer.
Andrew Gallagher had also endured significant psychological effects and financial loss amounting to over €7,000 euro.
The case would merit a sentence of three years imprisonment, he suggested.
He accepted that Gallagher was remorseful, had apologised to his victim and was taking steps to addressing his issues with drink.
However, he added that he was not satisfied with the amount of compensation and said he wanted Gallagher to come up with the total amount of €7,750 in earnings and other costs lost by Andrew Gallagher.
He sentenced Leon Gallagher to two years in prison but suspended it for twelve months during which time he said he expected all the compensation to be paid.