Patrick Farrell, aged 21, of Cornamuckla, Broadford, pleaded guilty at Mullingar Circuit Criminal Court to the unlawful killing of 20-year-old Andrew Dolan on Pearse St, Mullingar, on Jan 1, 2012.
Mr Dolan, a biomedical student from Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, died in Beaumount Hospital following the assault.
Judge Tony Hunt said it was clear from CCTV footage of the assault that Mr Dolan was in a passive mode. He said he had his hands out and upturned and there was evidence that he said to his attackers: “Don’t hit me. What did I do?”
“It was a serious attack against a man who at all times was uninvolved and in retreat,” said the judge.
The judge accepted that Farrell was arrested nearby and expressed immediate concern for Mr Dolan’s condition. He also noted that he and his family were continually in contact with gardaí looking for an update on the victim’s progress.
Judge Hunt accepted that Farrell had expressed remorse, entered an early plea, and had no previous convictions. “I have no doubt that he would look to turn the clock back,” said Judge Hunt.
He said Farrell “administered two blows”, one of which was “the final blow in the context of a violent assault of some duration”.
The judge said that “a decent and valuable life has been lost”, adding that such a case would usually warrant a sentence of seven years but that given the mitigating factors, he would impose a three-and-a-half-year sentence.