Jail term ‘not appropriate sentence’ in cheek bite case

A sentencing judge said street assaults frightened people and prompted calls for culprits to be jailed as the only solution but he said this was not appropriate yesterday in a case where a student was allegedly bitten on the cheek.

Seán Buckley, aged 23, of 63 Waterfall Road, Bishopstown, Cork, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing harm to the teenager in Cork city and brought €1,000 in cash to court yesterday for the victim.

Judge Tim Lucey said in relation to the prosecution evidence that the injured party was bitten and the defendant had no recollection of a bite. Furthermore the judge said the injuries consisted of scratches and marks that were not consistent with a bite.

Michael Quinlan, solicitor, said the young man had assured him he would never appear in court again.

Judge Lucey said: “Assaulting someone on the street gratuitously for no reason is a serious matter and it is a little bit frightening. People do not want that kind of thing happening on the streets.

“He has pleaded guilty. Essentially he has no previous. He has probably done as much as he could.

“People when they hear of these things they expect jail sentences as if that is the solution to all problems.

“I think the correct sentence is that he should be convicted and fined.

“I am considering the fact that he has paid €1,000. He will be convicted and fined €400.”

Inspector John Deasy said the injured party, a Leaving Cert student, was walking along Maylor St with friends when his hat was grabbed from his head. It was then thrown around between Buckley and his friends and the hat ended up on the ground.

The injured party picked it up and the inspector said a fight ensued where the victim was assaulted by two parties including Buckley.

While the victim was on the ground being assaulted by another party he pulled Seán Buckley towards himself to protect himself from blows from another man.

“At this point he was bitten on the cheek by Seán Buckley. Mr Buckley and other then ran from the scene,” Insp Deasy said.

The inspector said Buckley was forthcoming when interviewed by gardaí and accepted responsibility for his part in injuries caused to the teenager.

While the victim sustained a bite mark to his right cheek he had recovered well, the inspector said.

Michael Quinlan said Buckley had gone to Australia where he was doing well. He said Buckley was so drunk at the time he had no memory of a bite.

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