Former boxer escapes prison after paying €7,650 compo to assault victim

July 1, 2022

A former Irish boxer has escaped going to jail after paying a man he viciously assaulted in a Ballybofey bar a total of €7,650 in compensation.

Leon Gallagher struck Andrew Gallagher so hard that he broke his jaw in three places after some playful ‘shadow-boxing’ turned nasty.

Gallagher, a 23-year-old father-of-one, appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court having previously paid his victim €2,000.

Judge John Aylmer said that if Gallagher had another €5,000 in court then he would suspend a jail sentence of two years which he had initially imposed for the assault at McKelvey’s Bar on December 16th, 2019.

The court had 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.

Barrister Fiona Crawford told the court that Gallagher now had the €5,000 in court and that he was supported by his partner Laura in court.

The couple are now expecting their second baby.

She said her client was doing well, had undertaken an anger management course and also has a third level course lined up.

Judge Aylmer suspended the two years sentence and ordered Gallagher to go under the direction of the Probation Services and be of good behaviour for 12 months.

He is also to abstain from alcohol for the next 12 months.