Former army private who attacked woman with broken glass bottle jailed for five years

A former army private who attacked a young woman with a broken glass bottle, leaving her “bleeding profusely” from the side of her face has been jailed for five years, writes Sarah-Jane Murphy.

Christopher O'Reilly (60) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing serious harm on O'Connell Street, Dublin on June 10, 2010.

He also pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at Wolf Tone Quay on September 5, 2013.

Garda Joe O'Connor told the court that on the night of the assault O'Reilly asked the woman for a cigarette, before wandering off and nearly being knocked down by a passing car.

Sinead McMullen BL, prosecuting, said that O'Reilly then returned to where the woman was sitting with her boyfriend and “out of nowhere” hit her on the cheek with a broken glass bottle, piercing the left side of her face.

The court heard that the victim was “bleeding profusely” and “in deep shock” at what had taken place.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said that the attack caused her “panic attacks, a huge setback in her confidence, nightmares and physical revulsion at her scar”. The court heard that the scar has since faded but she is still concerned that it's noticeable.

She said that she was afraid to walk down O'Connell Street again in case she encountered O'Reilly. The victim also said she found it difficult to be in the company of drunk people.

Garda Mairead Doherty told Ms McMullen that the attempted robbery occurred on board a Dublin Bus, when O'Reilly approached a woman who was counting money and held a hammer over her head “getting right in her face”.

He then calmly put the hammer back in his bag and got off the bus the court heard.

Ms McMullen said the accused, of Rivercourt View, Chapelizod, Dublin 20, has several previous convictions including one for assault causing harm in 2005.

Defending, Luigi Rea BL, said that O'Reilly had been homeless at various times and that the assault was a spontaneous attack using an improvised weapon.

He said O'Reilly bitterly and deeply regretted what he did, adding that the crimes were both alcohol fuelled.

Mr Rea said that O'Reilly now suffers from lung cancer and has entered several detoxification problems and residential treatment in an effort to deal with his “chronic alcoholism.”

Sentencing O'Reilly, Judge Melanie Greally said the “reasonless attack” caused substantial injury to the young woman.

She said that the psychological impact on the defendant's victim was considerable, and that the woman now perceived the world in a very different way.

Referring to the attempted robbery, Judge Greally said it was an opportunistic incident.

“It is clear that alcoholism has characterised this man's life from a very early stage,” she said.

She gave him credit for his guilty pleas, his remorse and his co-operation with gardaí.

Judge Greally sentenced him to four years in prison for the assault and two years for the attempted robbery, with the final 12 months suspended. The sentences are set to run consecutively, meaning he will spend five years in jail.

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