Two soldiers involved in a violent drink-fuelled fight have been given a chance to stay in the Defence Forces after a judge gave them non-custodial sentences.
The court heard they had faced being automatically discharged from the army if they received custodial sentences, suspended sentences or fines of over €800. They will now face an army disciplinary tribunal.
Judge Martin Nolan imposed a two-and-a-half-year “deferred sentence” on Andrew Gilmore, aged 25, who was judged to have played the more serious role in the attack.
A deferred sentence is a rarely used provision which means that technically Gilmore will not have received a custodial or suspended term. This is conditional on him paying over €3,000 to the two victims within six months. If he complies with this, the sentence will not be imposed.
His co-accused, Michael Kearney, aged 30, was fined €500 after the judge noted he had a less violent role in the offence.
Judge Nolan said he was imposing the sentences with the objective of giving the men a chance to save their careers. He said the matter is now up to the army.
Gilmore, of the Gormanstown Army Barracks, Co Meath, and Kearney, of Carlton Crescent, Strabane, Tyrone, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder at Central Bank Plaza, Dublin, on Feb 9, 2012. They were also charged with assault causing harm, but these charges were not pursued by the State after the other pleas were entered.
Garda Frank Johnson told Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, that the two men had been celebrating in Madonna’s Nightclub and left the venue after 3am. A row broke out between them and two men and a woman.
Gilmore punched the first victim, Patrick Byrne, who was knocked unconscious. Gilmore also assaulted the man’s friends, Thomas Roantree and the woman.
Gda Johnson said another man, who disappeared after gardaí arrived, received blows to the head and body and that Mr Roantree was kicked while he was on the ground.
He said CCTV footage showed Kearney kicking someone on the ground.
Gilmore tried to run from gardaí but was arrested that night and Kearney went to gardaí the following night. Both men admitted their parts in the fight and entered early guilty pleas.
All of the victims have recovered from their injuries.
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