A man who made his escape from gardaí in a horse and carriage after slashing his victim’s cheek with a blade has been sentenced to three and half years with the final two years suspended.
Gardaí who attended the scene of the attack could see the muscles in the victim’s face after Gerard Howe (aged 23) left him with the skin hanging from his cheek. The victim, Patrick Fowler (aged 34), has been left with a permanent four inch scar.
Howe of Newmarket Street, The Coombe, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Mr Fowler causing him harm at Charlie’s Takeaway, Dame Street, on April 19, 2009.
The court heard that Howe works in the horse and cart business with his brother.
His co-accused Patrick Carter (aged 22) of Coombe Court also in The Coombe, pleaded guilty to the same offence but has since had a bench warrant issued when he failed to appear on his sentence date.
Detective Garda John Griffin told Martina Baxter BL, prosecuting, that he and a colleague witnessed the assault on Mr Fowler as they were parked on Dame Street at 3.50am that morning.
They saw Howe and Carter surround Mr Fowler who was pinned in due to the positioning of the table he was sitting at. Howe started to punch the man in the head as did Carter, while Mr Fowler tried to protect his face with his hands from their blows.
The gardaí ran into intervene but both men fled. Carter was arrested nearby but Howe escaped in a horse and carriage and was not arrested until six weeks later.
Det Gda Griffin said Mr Fowler had bloody tissues held up his face and his clothing was heavily blood stained. He said when the victim removed the tissues the skin on his cheek fell open and he could see his facial muscles.
Mr Fowler told gardaí that Howe had cut him with a blade.
An eye witness later said that there had been a verbal altercation with the three and she saw Howe and Carter punch Mr Fowler. They left and Mr Fowler went downstairs to the bathroom but when he returned to the restaurant his attackers came back in and assaulted him again.
This woman told gardaí that a man then sliced Mr Fowler four or five times back and fourth across his face.
Det Gda Griffin said Howe did not make admissions until his seventh interview with gardaí.
A victim impact report was prepared for the court but not read out. Judge Martin Nolan asked to see photographs of the man’s injuries and was informed by Det Gda Griffin that he still has a visible scar.
Det Gda Griffin said the men knew each other from the general area but there did not appear to be a motivation for the attack. He said he could only conclude that it had been alcohol fuelled.
He said Howe had four previous convictions for public order and has not come to garda attention since the assault.
Det Gda Griffin agreed with Olan Callanan BL, defending, that Howe went around to Mr Fowler’s family home the day after the attack to apologise but the victim wasn’t there so he gave his apology to his father.
Mr Callanan told Judge Nolan that his client accepts that the court will see this as an “appalling offence” but asked him to accept that Howe’s admission of guilt would be of particular value to the State.
Counsel suggested to the court that “such a serious offence against the background of very minor offences may allow the court to conclude that his actions were out of character”.
Judge Nolan said that the harm sustained by Mr Fowler should have been foreseeable by Howe considering his use of the blade.
He suspended the last two years of the sentence on strict conditions.