A 22-year-old Limerick man shot in his head two years ago has said he will never be able to lead an independent life due to his injuries.
The Central Criminal Court was hearing a victim impact report from Daniel Philips, ahead of sentencing the man who shot him in the head and chest on May 24, 2010.
Shane Mason (aged 30) of Seán Heuston Place in Limerick had denied shooting Mr Philips, who was driving a car through John's Square in the city that evening.
However, a jury found him guilty of attempted murder by unanimous verdict earlier this month, after a trial lasting two and a half weeks.
He was also found guilty of causing Mr Philips serious harm and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life, charges he also denied.
The trial heard that Mr Philips spent a month in a coma after bullet fragments were removed from his skull and chest, but has since made a remarkable recovery and is studying for his Leaving Certificate.
He was in court with his family today for Mason’s sentencing hearing. He had prepared a victim impact report, which Detective Sergeant Kevin McHugh read out on his behalf.
“Before the incident, life was brilliant,” he said, explaining that he had been living with his girlfriend, playing soccer for a club and studying for his Leaving Cert.
“I don’t remember anything about the incident,” he said. “But it turned my whole life upside down.”
He said that after the surgery to remove the bullets, he got an infection and pneumonia and that his lungs collapsed twice. He said he had to learn to walk again at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, where he also received counselling.
He said he finally returned home in late November of that year, but soon had to go to live with his aunt and uncle as he needed help.
“I can’t see myself going out to live independently,” he said, adding that he had some good days, but that the bad days were really awful.
“My memory is very bad and I have to be reminded to take my medication,” he said.
“I can’t play any sport, drive a car, drink alcohol or go to a disco because of the lights,” he said.
Worst of all, he said, was that he could no longer work.
“I can only walk for short distances, stand for a short time and have to be helped climbing any stairs,” he said, adding that his family had to make a lot of adjustments for him too.
D Sgt McHugh said no clear motive had ever been established for the attack, which saw Mason fire about six shots at the car driven by Mr Philips.
His friend Gary Kelly, who was in the passenger seat, saw Daniel slump over the wheel and managed to bend down and work the pedals with his hands, steering the car by looking at the buildings around him.
CCTV footage placed Mason at the scene of the crime when it was committed, just before 9.30pm.
He had been wearing a blue t-shirt and dark tracksuit bottoms, fitting a description of the gunman given by five eye-witnesses. These clothes were later found damp in his girlfriend's washing machine in nearby Brennan's Row.
Two eye-witnesses saw the gunman putting the gun down the front of his trousers.
Gunshot residue was found on the waistband of Mason’s underwear and on his hands when he was arrested, wearing a bullet-proof vest, an hour after the shooting.
D Sgt McHugh said that Mason had 179 previous convictions, including for assault, possession of an article with intent to cause injury, possession of knives and other articles, threatening to kill or cause serious injury.
He also had a number of convictions for possession of drugs for sale or supply, and was on bail for such an offence when he attempted to murder Mr Philips. He is currently serving three years in prison for that crime and is due for release in January.
Mason looked at his family, who sighed yesterday when Mr Justice Garret Sheehan said he would not impose a life sentence.
However, he said he would impose a lengthy sentence, adjourning his decision until October for preparation of an educational report on the defendant.