A man who viciously attacked two strangers in an unprovoked assault on a dancefloor while intoxicated on a mixture of drink and cocaine has avoided going to jail.
Eunan Maguire assaulted friends Aaron Pearson and Aaron Bradley at Sky Nightclub in Donegal Town in the early hours of March 10th, 2019.
He left one of his victims with a broken jaw and the other with a scar for life.
Both victims gave heart-wrenching victim impact statements of how the attacks have changed their lives forever.
Judge John Aylmer said the attacks were without provocation and he placed them in the mid-range of such offences saying the extent of the victims injuries received from the “purposeful uppercut” were only a matter of chance.
He added that before mitigation he said both assault causing harm charges merited sentences of three years each.
Maguire, now aged 25, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to the men when he appeared at Donegal Circuit Court.
CCTV footage of the double assault showed the construction worker from Glenview, Ardara knocking both men to the ground with two single punches before fleeing the dancefloor.
Both men had to receive hospital treatment for their injuries in the aftermath of the attacks.
Medical reports on the damage suffered by both victims was read out in court.
Mr Bradley received an “upper cut” from the accused and has a scar on his chin from where he was cut having had to received several stitches.
His friend Mr Pearson suffered a fractured jaw as a result of the punch from Maguire and had to have a metal plate and screws fitted into his jaw and still finds it difficult to eat.
Maguire, who was and continues to live in London, was contacted by Donegal Town Gardai in July after CCTV was viewed and he admitted to being involved in the incident and indicated he wanted to sort it out.
The court heard how on the night in question Maguire had taken both cocaine and a considerable amount of alcohol.
His barrister, Mr Sean Magee, told how his client had come from a steady home and was supported in court by his mother although his father had passed away in 2020.
However, the death of his older brother Tomas in a car accident in Australia when the accused was just sixteen had had a profound effect on him.
Unlike his siblings, he had not undergone grievance counselling but had instead taken to alcohol to cope with his brother’s loss whom he was very close to.
Mr Magee said this period lasted for several years until his early 20s as he “lost his way in life.”
However, Mr Magee said that through the support of his family and his partner whom he hopes to marry, he no longer takes drugs and only drinks occasionally and is saving for a deposit on a house.
“He described this incident as a real wake-up call for him,” added Mr Magee who stressed that his client was extremely remorseful and apologetic.
He added that when he viewed the CCTV footage of the incident and heard of the injuries to the men, his “behaviour had sickened him.”
He had contacted Mr Pearson by Facebook message apologising and asking if they could “sort it out.”
Three references, one from Ardara GAA Club, one from family friend and Senator Eileen Flynn and one from his employer, were handed into court.
Mr Magee said that his solicitor, Mr Frank Dorrian, had been put in funds of €20,000, to offer to the men as a token gesture for his wrongdoing.
Investigating Garda Claire Ramsay said that both men had prepared victim impact statements but could not make it to court because of work commitments.
Aaron Bradley said he suffered a “horrendous attack” which had changed his life forever.
He added “This has been mentally, physically and financially draining. Medical bills, medication and prescription expenses, loss of wages for two months, on returning to work I was very limited to what I could carry out.”
He said he had to undergo an operation to get plates and screws fitted into his jaw and that he finds it difficult to eat and still experiences a lot of pain and numbness especially in the cold weather.
Mr Bradley added that his life will never be the same again after the unprovoked attack.
He said “I have experienced lifestyle changes, my parents and family also suffered a lot of anxiety during this time. I have suffered from the feeling of isolation, depression and overall negative impact on the quality of my life. I suffer from fear, anxiety, shock and the feeling of being unsafe when I am out with my friends and on most occasions I had to come home early.”
Aaron Pearson said he had been an outgoing, confident and sociable person who had never been involved in any altercation.
He said the psychological impact of the assault has had longer lasting effects on his mental health.
He added “I find myself suffering from anxiety, flashbacks, and no longer feel comfortable in large crowds. I no longer feel safe in nightclubs so my social life has suffered.
“It is frightening to me to think that there are people out there who think it is ok to strike you because they find violence exhilarating. The scar on my face is a constant reminder of that night and I am very conscious of it. I feel when other people look at me, they are passing judgement on my character and my confidence is undermined.
“The scar itself is sensitive and shaving around it is uncomfortable and time consuming. I have grown a beard to cover it, a look which I don’t particular like.”
From a physical point of view he said his jaw continues to cause him pain especially when he is eating.
And he concluded “I feel I will carry the psychological and physical impact of this assault which was totally unprovoked for the rest of my life.
“I wish for the accused to reflect on his actions and the consequences of assaulting me and others.”
Passing sentence, Judge John Aylmer said the assaults were carried out without provocation when Maguire was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine.
He initially said the charges deserved sentences of three years each before mitigating factors were considered.
The mitigation included that Maguire had pleaded guilty at an early stage, had no previous convictions and had not come to the attention of Gardai since.
He was also a hard-working individual who had risen to a managerial level within the construction company he had worked and had managed to come up with the sum of €20,000 to offer as a token of remorse for his actions which had been accepted by the men.
He also accepted a report from a psychiatrist that the accused was suffering as a result of the tragic death of his brother in Australia.
Judge Aylmer said that because of all these factors he was reducing the sentence to one of two years in prison.
He then said he had the option to consider if he could suspend all or part of this sentence because of the fact that Maguire had no previous convictions and had not offended since.
He agreed that this was one of the rare occasions that the court agreed that all of the sentence could be suspended.
He ordered Maguire to be of good behaviour for the next two years.
The court was also told a civil case is currently underway on behalf of one of the victims.