A man who savagely beat two neighbours across the head with a table leg after his wife got into an argument late at night with one of the victims' daughters has been jailed for seven years by Judge Michael White at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Christopher McDonagh, aged 28, from Kilmahuddrick Road, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm to 42-year-old Mr Gerard Nolan and assault causing harm to Mr Robert Sidebottom, aged 32, on April 8, 2002. He has nine previous convictions.
McDonagh's vicious assault on Mr Nolan as he lay on the ground left him unconscious for two weeks.
His recovery has been good but he still has long-term health problems.
Mr Sidebottom witnessed the assault from his bedroom window and ran to Mr Nolan's assistance, armed with a hurling stick which he used to try and block the blows McDonagh was raining down on Mr Nolan but when the hurley smashed he was also struck a number of times in the head and the body.
Judge White said such was the serious nature of both assaults that he felt it appropriate to impose consecutive sentences of five and two years, but suspended the last year.
"Had it not been for the courageous intervention of Mr Sidebottom then I have no doubt that Mr Nolan would have lost his life because at this stage his attacker was completely out of control", he said.
Detective Garda Derek Hughes told Ms Aileen Donnelly BL, prosecuting, that Mr Nolan's skull was fractured in three places and required brain surgery. He was unconscious for two weeks and had lost his senses of smell and taste.
He had ongoing difficulties with his short-term memory and his concentration and energy levels and it was unlikely that he'd ever work again.
Det Garda Hughes added that because of the serious nature of the head injuries he suffered there was still a risk he could develop epilepsy.
Mr Sidebottom was also knocked unconscious in the attack.
He suffered a broken elbow, required 30 staples to cuts on his head, had two broken fingers, a broken wrist and damaged a disc in his back. A carpenter by trade, he hasn't worked since.
"I don't know how to put into words what happened. It's like a nightmare," Mr Sidebottom told the court.
"However, if I saw someone being beaten to death, which is what I thought was happening on the night, I'd probably still go and help them.
"I do accept whatever apology he has to offer but it's just the recurrence of it every day that's the problem. What he did that night he did to my wife, my child and to Mr Nolan's family," Mr Sidebottom added.
Det Garda Hughes told Ms Donnelly there had been ongoing disputes between the McDonagh family and residents on the road.
It generally centred on the fact that McDonagh's family were members of the settled travelling community.
Mr Nolan's daughter was having an argument with McDonagh's wife on the night in question.
Other people, including the victim, got involved and McDonagh, fearing for his wife's safety came out of the house with the weapon and attacked Mr Nolan.
Mr Michael O'Higgins SC, for McDonagh, said his client's family had been threatened on a number of occasions and one of these threats resulted in the family being transported under garda escort to McDonagh's mother's house late one night.
Mr O'Higgins pleaded for as lenient a sentence as possible because McDonagh had come voluntarily by arrangement to the garda station to make a statement and had pleaded guilty.
He was genuinely remorseful and offered full apologies to the two injured men.