Thomas Dennis left hairdresser Shauna Weldon without a fingertip on her right-hand ring finger, resulting in her having to retrain as a hairdresser.
Dennis only reported the incident to gardaí the following afternoon after consulting with his father when he found Ms Weldon’s finger tip in his car.
Dennis, aged 21, of Newtown Parks in Skerries, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Swords District Court to failing to report the occurrence of a hit and run on Dec 16, 2012, at Quay St in Balbriggan.
Judge Dermot Dempsey expressed his surprise that the State did not bring more serious charges against Dennis, adding that his “hands are tied” when it came to imposing a conviction.
Instead, he was told the maximum penalty for the offence Dennis was charged with was a €2,000 fine.
Garda Kieran Moloney told the court that at 3.30am, Dennis went to collect friends from Home nightclub in Balbriggan when a number of people came over to his car.
Garda Moloney said Ms Weldon had placed her hand on the car and started to speak to the people in the car. She said she knows of Dennis through friends.
Garda Moloney said Dennis told his friends to close the car door and drove off, severing the finger tip of Ms Weldon’s right-hand ring finger.
He said the following day Dennis opened his car and discovered the severed fingertip.
He said Dennis then phoned his father, who worked as a taxi driver, to ask for advice before reporting the incident to gardaí.
Defence solicitor Maura Kiely said Dennis, who has no previous convictions, was involved in a “most regrettable incident”.
“He realises he should have made direct contact with gardaí, but he suffers from anxiety disorder after he was the victim of a group attack in Balbriggan in 2008,” said Ms Kiely.
Dennis, who does voluntary work with Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland, thought someone had been trying to get into his car on the night when he told his friends to close the car door, she said. “He is most apologetic for the incident.”
Ms Weldon told the court that she never received an apology from Dennis and that she still attends physiotherapy and hospital a year after the incident.
She denied alcohol contributed to the incident and denied trying to get into the car.
“I was speaking to them at the car,” she said.
After considering the incident, Judge Dempsey said his “hands are tied” in relation to convicting Dennis but fined him €1,500, giving him four months to pay. He fixed recognisance in the event of an appeal.