A Lithuanian man who knocked a “peace-maker” to the ground with one punch leaving him with a serious head injury has been sentenced to three and half years in prison.
The court heard when Julian Matiunin (34) punched Jan Wielgus to the jaw one person said they could hear “the crack of his head off the pavement”.
It was accepted that the injuries to the victim were caused from his head hitting the ground.
Mr Wielgus (46) was later treated in hospital in intensive care for bleeding around the brain, between the brain and his skull. He was put into an induced coma and was discharged over three weeks later.
He returned to hospital the following week because of problems with his stomach from being intubated. He continues to suffer from strong headaches and vomiting.
Matiunin of Holywell Way, Swords, Co Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Mr Wielgus at St Stephen’s Green West on June 21, 2015. He has two previous convictions for public order offences. The men had been drinking earlier in the Dandelion Bar and Night Club on St Stephen’s Green.
Judge Karen O’Connor suspended the last 12 months of the three and half year term after saying that she had “no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence”.
She said it was “violent attack on a person walking away” having earlier described the victim as “a peace maker who was trying to calm a difficult situation”.
Garda Darren Reid told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting that Matiunin had been drinking earlier in the evening with Mr Wielgus and his friends having met them for the first time that night in the pub attached to Dandelion Night Club.
He said the atmosphere changed when Matiunin began to dance around a number of women in the nightclub in a way that made them feel uncomfortable.
Mr Wielgus intervened and suggested to the accused that he maybe should lay off the women and leave them alone. Matiunin’s demeanour soured and a row broke out between the two men outside the club which Gda Reid accepted was “fairly harmless” with punches thrown from both sides.
Other people tried to break it up and Mr Wielgus started to walk away before Matiunin followed him and threw a closed fisted punch hitting the victim in the jaw.
Gda Reid agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending that the women in the nightclub took issue with Matiunin’s behaviour towards them. Mr Wielgus stepped into to try and diffuse the situation after another man got involved.
Counsel said the victim even invited Matiunin over for a drink but a row broke out between them outside and “my client wouldn’t let it go”.
“If he hadn’t been drinking this would never have happened,” Mr Le Vert told Judge O’Connor having earlier outlined that Matiunin had been drinking heavily that evening, firstly with his wife over dinner, before in the pub and continuing in the nightclub.
Counsel submitted that Matiunin’s behaviour on the night was “entirely out of character” but said he seemed to have learned a very hard lesson and had expressed his regret and sorrow for what he did to the victim.
“He is very aware of the possible outcomes of proceedings today,” Mr Le Vert said.
A victim impact report before the court outlined how Mr Wielgus’s life and that of his family had “drastically changed”. He said his wife and oldest daughter visited him in hospital every day and were very concerned as to what condition he would be in when he came out of the coma.
Mr Wielgus said his daughter turned down a possible job opportunity in Moscow because she didn’t want to leave her mother alone dealing with her father’s condition. His family continue to worry about him because of his severe headaches.