Man says he is an ‘idiot’ for mistaken identity assault

A Cork man who attacked a stranger in a case of mistaken identity and broke his nose said he was an idiot for doing what he did and that Cork people should not be judged by his actions.

“I am disgusted. I am deeply ashamed and embarrassed,” said Damien O’Brien. “I would like to say please don’t judge the people of Cork on an idiot like me. I cannot say enough how sorry I am.”

O’Brien, aged 44, who is from Cork City but now living at 34 St Colman’s Park, Macroom, Co Cork, pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge of assault causing harm to Jim Gunter, who was going home from work in Cork city at 1.40am on the day of the assault.

Garda Aoife Hayes, who investigated the case, said it dated back to February 18, 2012, when Mr Gunter walked from the South Mall to Morrison’s Island, Cork City.

Without any exchange of words or build-up, O’Brien started attacking Mr Gunter by hitting him and kicking him repeatedly.

The attack lasted approximately one minute and stopped suddenly when O’Brien realised he was attacking the wrong man. Mr Gunter was not the man O’Brien thought he was. O’Brien ran away, leaving Mr Gunter with a broken nose and a deep cut across the bridge of his nose which is still scarred four and a half years later.

O’Brien was subsequently arrested and he made full admissions to the crime of assault causing harm.

“He explained that he mistook the injured party for a male who had threatened his girlfriend,” Gda Hayes told the court.

Donal Daly, defence solicitor, said O’Brien was profuse in his apologies to the injured party as soon as he was interviewed about the matter.

Gda Hayes said of the injured party: “He was very accepting of these apologies. He is very grateful that there has been a plea of guilty and that the case is over. He is a very understanding man.”

Mr Daly said the accused was now staying away from people with whom he used to get into trouble, and that he had a heroin problem at the time but was now off drugs and alcohol and was secretary of his local AA branch.

O’Brien hoped the case could be adjourned for him to gather compensation.

Judge Olann Kelleher said the accused had had since February 2012 to do that and had not done so.

“This is a very serious assault. It has to be dealt with by a custodial sentence — five months in prison,” the judge said.

Inspector Adrian Gamble said the accused had a previous conviction for assault causing harm, three for assault, and three for making threats to kill.

Judge Kelleher wondered what would have happened if O’Brien had met the man he wanted to meet that night when he was taking the law into his own hands.


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