Father who bit of part of victim's ear given suspended sentence

A separated father who bit off part of an ex-colleague’s right ear has escaped jail after he handed over €10,000 compensation to the victim and despite not fulfilling Judge Donagh McDonagh’s order to get himself a job.

David Foley (aged 40) of Broadstone Avenue, Phibsboro pleaded guilty last year at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing Mr Justin Kneeland harm at Eamonn Dorans Pub in Temple Bar on February 1, 2004 and was given a three years prison sentence which was suspended for five years on strict conditions

Judge McDonagh told Foley at the last hearing in March 2007 that he was to put 50% of his net wage away each week and have that sum in cash before the court on the next occasion.

"You knew for three years that you would be facing the doors of justice. Other accused come with a little wad (of cash) and I would have thought you would be doing anything to have money together for your victim."

Judge McDonagh added on that occasion: "There are plenty of employers in this country screaming out for employees. Half of Eastern Europe is breaking down our door for work."

Foley told Judge McDonagh then that he was unable to get a job because he was receiving welfare support for his two children and would lose these benefits if he returned to work.

Judge McDonagh noted Foley had complied with all his other orders and had previously not been in trouble for 14 years and said "it would be a little harsh" to impose a custodial sentence.

Garda Charlie Cawley told Mr Michael Bowman BL, prosecuting, that Mr Kneeland was working as security supervisor for Proguard Security at the time and was leaving Eamonn Dorans when he met with Foley who was intoxicated and agitated that he had been refused entry to the pub.

Mr Kneeland brought him to the other side of the road, outside The Bad Ass Cafe, in an effort to try and calm him but Foley lashed out without provocation and tried to kick and punch him.

Mr Kneeland grabbed Foley’s arms and pushed him against the shutters of the cafe. His face was quite close to Foley’s who clamped down on his ear and tore off the flesh, before spitting the piece of ear out on the ground.

Other doormen, including Foley’s brother, then helped to restrain him and another colleague of Mr Kneeland’s picked up the piece of ear and put it on ice before handing it over to ambulance crew.

Gda Cawley said Mr Kneeland was taken to St James’s Hospital where he was told they wouldn’t be able to reattach the ear. He attended for a plastic surgeon as an outpatient on a number of occasions.

Gda Cawley said Foley had 17 previous convictions from 1981 to the most recent in 1994 for drugs, robbery and road traffic offences.

Mr Kneeland told Mr Bowman that he also attended hospital for blood screening to see if he had caught any infections that could be contracted from a human bite.

He said this was more worrying than losing part of his ear and it was huge relief when the test can back clear.

He said he had learned to live with the permanent disfigurement and that although it was painful when the wound was healing, he seldom suffered with pain now.

Ms Mary Ellen Ring SC (with Ms Sandra Frayne BL), defending, told Mr Kneeland that she had instructions on behalf of her client to offer his apologies and said that he accepted it never should have happened.

"I appreciate that," Mr Kneeland replied.


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