Suspended sentence for solicitor who punched teenage footballer in the face

A 32-year-old solicitor and football mentor who punched a teenage player in the face in an unprovoked assault has been given a three-month suspended jail sentence.

Handing down the sent-ence on Conor Connelly, of Montpelier Court, Montpelier, Dublin, Judge Catherine Staines said violence could not be tolerated in sport and defeated the purpose of sport.

It is also a bad example to young people, she told Connelly, who pleaded guilty at Tullamore District Court to assaulting a 17-year-old causing him harm during the Senior County Football League final between Edenderry and Ballycumber last July.

The victim, an Edenderry player, was trying to keep the ball in play when he brushed against Ballycumber mentor Connelly.

As the boy’s momentum brought him across the sideline, Connelly immediately struck the boy in the face, resulting in serious damage to his front teeth, for which he is receiving treatment. The boy played on but had to be substituted.

Inspector Kieran Keyes said the assault, which was caught on camera, was completely unprovoked, but the boy, who is doing his Leaving Certificate this year, is making a good recovery.

Solicitor Donal Farrelly said Connelly was embarrassed and ashamed by a momentary lapse in concentration near the end of a very passionate match.

He immediately stepped down as a trainer and withdrew from the sport he loved, putting an end to a glittering career during which he played senior football with Roscommon, the solicitor said.

He said Connelly did not know the victim and his reaction was instantaneous and not thought out.

He said his client had visited the boy and his family days after the incident and unreservedly apologised.

Connelly paid €11,000 compensation in December, and this included the boy’s medical and legal costs.

Mr Farrelly asked the judge to consider leaving Connelly without a conviction as he had dealt with the case promptly and fairly.

Judge Staines said the DPP had rightly persisted with the prosecution despite the boy’s family wanting no criminal charge.

She said it was a serious assault, aggravated by the fact that Connelly was an adult and the victim a child. In his favour were a lack of previous convictions, immediate remorse, and prompt payment of compensation.

The three-month sentence she imposed for assault causing harm is to be suspended for two years.

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