James White, aged 32, of Cappawhite, Co Tipperary, a decorated British army war hero, was in Thurles District Court yesterday when it was heard he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault causing harm on a previous occasion.
The case was adjourned at that time to allow for the preparation of a victim impact statement in relation to the people he assaulted, said his solicitor, Colin Morrissey.
The impact statement was handed into Judge Elizabeth MacGrath.
Judge MacGrath noted that one of the victims had to receive medical treatment as a result of the assault, while the other did not. The assault had affected both “quite substantially”, she said.
“It arose out of a photograph that was taken at your client’s sister’s funeral,” the judge said to Mr Morrissey. “It caused him to take the course of action he took.
She said the case might be an appropriate one to be dealt with under the restorative justice project and she was concerned about certain “fears” that the victims had following the assault.
The restorative justice project may be preferable for the victims, rather than having to speak in open court, Judge MacGrath said.
“Life is too short to be going around living in fear that could be abated and may be abated” through the restorative justice project, she said.
Mr Morrissey said his client would be open to the case being assessed for suitability under that project.
Judge MacGrath adjourned the matter until February 28.
Mr White achieved the rank of lance corporal in the British army and was personally presented with the Military Cross by Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace in 2011.
The award was made to him in respect of “multiple acts of bravery” while serving with the British army in Afghanistan.
His sister Cathriona, 30, died in Los Angeles in October of last year and was laid to rest in her home town of Cappawhite, alongside her father Pat, who died in 2012.
She had been in a relationship with Hollywood actor Jim Carrey, star of Dumb and Dumber and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but the couple had broken up prior to her death.
Her mother Brigid has lived in Britain for the last number of years.