A casual encounter with a girl in a night club sparked what a judge described as “a callous and cowardly” assault in which a college graduate had his face kicked in.

Three men — Cathal O’Brien, aged 22, of The Cross, Ardagh, Co Limerick; Shane Kelly, aged 22, Ballagh, Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick; and Deniss Permanickis, aged 27, Ballagh, Abbfyeale — all pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court to assault causing harm and violent disorder.

James O’Donnell, an information technology graduate, was set upon by the three after he was seen talking briefly to Permanickis’s girlfriend while they were all the Club Mission nightclub in Newcastle West.

After leaving the nightclub, the three accused men launched a brutal attack. He ended up at University Hospital Limerick, with a broken jaw, a fractured facial bone, and broken teeth and was kept in for five days.

The assault happened on the night July 12, 2014.

Garda Chris McGrath said he came on Mr O’Donnell who was lying injured on a street at about 2.30am. An ambulance was also at the scene and there was bleeding from Mr O’Donnell’s mouth and head. He was treated for his injuries at UHL and is still under medical care.

In a statement to gardaí, Mr O’Donnell said that while in the nightclub he talked to a girl briefly and as he went to walk away he was approached by the three accused men.

One asked him: “Why were you talking to my girlfriend.” He replied: “Sorry, I did not know”.

Later, CCTV caught the three defendants walk towards Mr O’Donnell on the street outside where the assault occurred.

When they were arrested the three admitted the assault.

Permanickis, in a statement, said he thought Mr O’Donnell was a stranger who was trying to “chance” his girlfriend.

Each of the accused have offered €2,000 to Mr O’Donnell as what defence counsel said was a “sincere gesture of remorse”.

Judge Tom O’Donnell said Mr O’Donnell was subjected to a callous and cowardly attack when he was on his own after leaving the nightclub.

The judge was taking into account that none of the accused men had any previous conviction and had expressed remorse.

He adjourned the case to October 4, and said a sum of €9,000 should be paid to Mr O’Donnell and that the €4,000 offered be paid over straight away.


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