Man put in coma by unprovoked assault

Edward Shine (left): Admitted he hit Mr Twomey after being shown CCTV footage by gardaí. Alan O'Sullivan (right): Accepted as the main aggressor who struck Mr Twomey up to nine times. Pictures: Liam Burke/Press 22

The family of a Co Cork financial adviser was told he might never come out of a coma and, if he did, might remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life as a result of an unprovoked assault when out socialising with his girlfriend, a court heard.

Tomas Twomey, aged 27, of Old Cork Road, Mallow, sustained multiple brain injuries and a fractured skull when he was subjected to a flurry of blows in an unprovoked attack outside a fast food outlet in Newcastle West.

Alan O’Sullivan, aged 21, a student at Limerick Institute of Technology and Eddie Shine, aged 22, an apprentice aircraft mechanic in Shannon, both of Ballyine, Old Mill, Newcastle West, pleaded guilty yesterday at Limerick Circuit Court to assault causing serious harm to Mr Twomey.

Mr Twomey lay in a coma in hospitals in Limerick and Cork after the attack and still suffers from his injuries.

Sgt Helena Carey told the court while on duty with Det Garda Jerry O’Sullivan in an unmarked patrol car at around 2.45am on March 10, 2012, they saw a group outside Superbites fast food outlet in Newcastle West.

She saw one man assaulted by another, and heard a thud as his head hit the footpath.

Going to his assistance, she found him to be unconscious and put him in the recovery position.

Det Garda O’Sullivan arrested the man they saw deliver the blow, Alan O’Sullivan, the son of a primary school teacher.

Shine, who the court was told came from a farming background, was later arrested.

After being rushed to University Hospital Limerick, Mr Twomey was transferred to the neurology department at Cork University Hospital where he was operated on for multiple brain injuries and a fractured skull.

During his time in hospital, Mr Twomey’s family were told that he might not come out of the coma.

Sgt Carey said Mr Twomey had gone into Superbites with his girlfriend. While there a group of men came in and sat near them.

This group began to pass disparaging remarks about Mr Twomey’s girlfriend’s weight and threw chips at her. She threw chips back and then a carton of chips.

She was asked to leave and she went outside with Mr Twomey. O’Sullivan then approached and poured a can of coke over her hair.

Mr Twomey did not react or engage with O’Sullivan and in an unprovoked attack, a flurry of up to 11 punches were thrown at Mr Twomey.

It was accepted that O’Sullivan was the main aggressor and struck Mr Twomey up to nine times and Shine struck him once.

When arrested, O’Sullivan initially claimed he hit Mr Twomey in self defence. When gardaí showed him CCTV of the attack, he made admissions.

Shine, when first interviewed, denied any involvement, until shown the CCTV and then admitted he struck Mr Twomey.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Twomey told of the trauma caused to him and his family.

As he lay in a coma for days, his family were told by doctors at Cork University Hospital that he might not come out of it due to the seriousness of the brain injuries he had suffered and if he did regain consciousness, he might remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.

He lost two stone as he was unable to eat solid food or sleep properly for months.

There was still a hole in his skull as a result of the medical procedures and he still feels pressure on the side of his head when he takes exercise.

He said he had also lost earnings.

Judge Carroll Moran, on being told that both men had come up with compensation offers of €10,000 each to Mr Twomey, said this was very fortunate for them. He said a prison sentence would seriously jeopardise their future careers and neither had a previous conviction.

He adjourned sentencing to July 29, saying that in O’Sullivan’s case, the offer of €10,000 compensation was not enough and that €20,000 would be more appropriate.


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