Trainee firefigher Cian McNally was in McDonald’s, Grafton St, with friends, when James Thornton, aged 25, hit him on the head with a chair, leaving him with a wound requiring 10 stitches.
Thornton later said he had not meant to hit Mr McNally and was targeting his friend because he “looked like a little faggot”.
He told gardaí: “I meant to hit his friend, his inner nature disgusted me”, and that he didn’t like this person’s body language.
Thornton of Marlborough St, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Mr McNally on June 9, 2016. His defence counsel said the attack was totally unprovoked and referenced a report handed into court which said Thornton was under a “drug-induced psychosis at the time”. Thornton said he had taken heroin that morning.
Judge Martin Nolan said this was the likely explanation for the attack. He said it seemed there was no reason for it other than Thornton had taken “an intense, irrational dislike” to the victim’s friend. The judge noted Thornton has been in custody for five months awaiting sentencing and said he did not deserve an immediate custodial term. He sentenced him to three years, suspended in full.
Prosecuting counsel Dara Hayes said the Thornton was restrained by security guards after the attack. The victim said he remembered Thornton apologising to him as he was being pulled past.
Mr McNally had a large cut above his eye which remained but had faded with time. He said his main worry at the time was that he was starting training with Dublin Fire Brigade the following week. He has now completed his training.
Thornton was co-operative on arrest.
His defence counsel said Thornton was in foster care as a child and started taking head shop drugs in his teens. He moved onto ecstasy, then heroin. He said he was not an addict but was “probably going down that road”. Counsel said he was homeless at the time which likely exacerbated the situation. She said he had the support of his family.