The innocent victim of a vicious and violent afternoon stabbing outside a pub in Cork city found out for the first time in hospital – as surgeons operated to save his life – that he had an underlying cancer that would take his life just five months later.
Now the 75-year-old man who stabbed him – resulting in the loss of a kidney and the surgical removal of part of the victim’s colon – has been jailed for 10 years.
Detective Sergeant Kieran O’Sullivan, who investigated the case, said Patrick O’Sullivan, 75, left The Groves Bar on the afternoon of July 20, 2020, got a taxi home to Kilnap Place, Farranree, Cork, where he got a knife and went back to the pub. He then stabbed 57-year-old Cormac Daly, with what was described as a vicious knife, in an unprovoked attack.
Det Sgt O’Sullivan said the defendant believed his brother had been threatened by another man in the bar. The detective said Cormac Daly was sitting near this other man but had nothing to do with any alleged threat.
Patrick O’Sullivan pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing serious harm to Cormac Daly at Dublin Street, Cork, on July 20, 2020.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: “This is an extremely sad, difficult case. For the family, it must be virtually impossible to understand. You had a stabbing which was very serious. Then you had the coming to light of the cancerous condition from which he died – you have the confluence of both of those – that explosion of misery happened at the same time and are inextricably linked and nobody can disentangle that for the family.
“The unfortunate Mr Daly, he never had a chance to recover from the stabbing because he was overwhelmed by the other matter. So for the family it was the same suffering and downhill all the way. But I have a different function – I must deal with the stabbing.
“It gets worse. This man arrived at the scene with a vicious looking knife. What was going on in this 74 [now 75]-year-old man’s head with this serious weapon in the peace of the north side of the city.
“No one can defend themselves against a knife. It was a totally unprovoked assault. There is talk of some few words exchanged in a couple of seconds. The defendant appears to be highly delusional. He stabbed the man without any reason. It was unprovoked, it was a violent, vicious assault on an innocent man.”
The late Mr Daly’s daughter, Julie Daly, said, “My mam has not been herself ever since my dad was brutally stabbed. My mam’s health has been deteriorating over all of this and has got even worse since my dad’s passing.
“My dad left behind five of his kids, his wife and grandkids and this is what he loved the most – his family. We are lost without our hero every single day.”
Martina Collins, sister of the deceased, said, “He asked Margaret to marry him after Christmas. He was hopeful things would be alright. We saw he was deteriorating day and by day and knew he wouldn’t make it. So I arranged his wedding where all his own family, his brothers, sisters and extended family came together.
“On December 30, I had a quick chat with him – about a minute or so as he was very tired. Then in the early hours of the morning that dreadful call came to say he has passed away.
“Our baby brother was brought home to be laid out as he said this is what he wanted because he was scared to be laid out in the funeral home in case he [Patrick O'Sullivan] comes to see him. Imagine that he is dead but still scared of him.”
In a family victim statement, the family said, “Whatever justice this man receives will never compensate for the life sentence that this man has given to our family as well as Cormac’s loved ones – which will be a lifetime of sorrow and grief.”
James O’Mahony, senior counsel for the accused, asked the judge to take into consideration mitigating factors such as the plea of guilty, sparing the necessity for a trial, the defendant’s age and his own medical problems.
Mr O’Mahony said the accused man remained at the scene that afternoon until the gardaí came and he cooperated.
Det Sgt O’Sullivan agreed the defendant was not troublesome afterwards and remained there when two men restrained him. Initially, the defendant alleged the deceased tried to head-butt him but CCTV showed this did not happen.
When the defence senior counsel said Patrick O’Sullivan never meant the consequences to be serious, Det Sgt O’Sullivan said there was premeditation in that the accused went home, got the knife, came back and stabbed Cormac Daly.