A man received the maximum allowed jail sentence of one year in prison for a vicious and unprovoked assault on a woman in Galway City.
Martin Ward (29), of Fairgreen Hostel, Galway City, was convicted of assault causing harm on a woman at Galway District Court this week, after contesting the charge.
The woman, who was attacked by three men, sustained severe bruising to her face and across her body, after she was pushed to the ground by men who proceeded to kick and punch her while she was down.
The assault occurred behind Curry’s on the Headford Road on the evening of February 2 of this year.
The injured party said that she had been hanging out with a group of people and drinking. After two of them left to go to the shop, she was attacked by three others, who first shoved her to the ground.
While on the ground, she was kicked and punched repeatedly, including in the face. “I tried to defend myself, but I couldn’t,” she told the court. After a time, she managed to get away and get help.
The woman went to the garda station to make a complaint the next morning. Photos of her injuries were taken at the station, which were handed into the court. Judge Mary Fahy noted that the woman had two black eyes in the photos, one of which was “particularly bad”.
Garda Mark Kelly told the court that he assisted in the investigation. After Martin Ward was identified as a suspect, he was arrested and interviewed by him and Detective Garda Ronan Leonard.
Martin Ward denied the charge when interviewed, saying that he had been in Tuam with his father that day.
Giving his own evidence during the hearing, Ward said that he had come to the area in Galway City later that day, but only after the assault had already occurred. “I know I have a drink problem, but I’ve never hit a woman in my life,” he said.
Inspector Finbar Philpott said that Gardai had asked Ward’s father for a statement after he told them this, but that he declined to give one.
He asked Martin Ward why his father wouldn’t give a statement I’d they had been together as he claimed, suggesting that it was because he hadn’t been in Tuam.
The court heard that Ward had 117 previous criminal convictions, including two for assault. His most recent convictions were for producing an article capable of inflicting serious injury, and making threats to kill or cause serious harm.
Judge Fahy said that this was a case of two people giving competing accounts, but that she did not believe Ward’s evidence. “The pictures speak for themselves, they’re horrific injuries,” she said.
She convicted him of the assault, and decided to impose the maximum permitted sentence of 12 months.
At the District Court level, judges may only impose a maximum of 12 months for a single offence, or two years for multiple charges brought together.
The sentence was backdated to July 1, after the court tried to untangle how long Ward had already spent in custody on this matter, having gotten bail and then gone back into custody on different occasions.