Thursday, May 30, 2019

A MAN, who was on bail for assault when he punched a talented musician at least twice into the head in an unprovoked attack and later died, was jailed for five years for his manslaughter.

Craig McGrath (25) from Rathfaddan Park in Waterford city was sentenced this afternoon by Judge Eugene O’Kelly. McGrath pleaded guilty before Waterford Circuit Criminal Court in March to the manslaughter of Damien O’Brien (27) following an incident that occurred on July 7, 2018 at the junction of John Street and Manor Street.

Mr O’Brien from Kilmacow, Co Kilkenny sustained a broken eye socket, broken nose and broken jaw as a result of the punches before he fell and was fatally injured when he hit his head off the ground. He was transferred to Cork University Hospital (CUH) in a critical condition before he tragically died on July 13.

McGrath was on bail for a charge of assault causing harm to Kiefer Dowling on August 18, 2017 at the time that he punched Mr O’Brien.

In a poignant and powerful victim impact statement Damien’s sister Sandra Griffin described the devastation of his killing that has torn their family apart.

In front of a packed courtroom Sandra Griffin said her brother was a happy, healthy and talented young man who “cherished his family, his friends and his music”.

Judge O’Kelly imposed a five-year prison sentence for the manslaughter charge, along with a consecutive two and a half years for the assault causing harm charge. He suspended two years of the latter sentence, which resulted in a net sentence of five and a half years.

There were audible gasps of disbelief from the public gallery as the sentence was handed down. Afterwards, Minister of State, John Halligan said an innocent man died as a result of an unprovoked assault and he would favour the introduction of legislation to reflect the gravity of one punch assaults.

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