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Man avoids jail term for assault during a fight at their local shopping centre

By Brion Hoban

A man who brought flowers and chocolates to a woman the day after he assaulted her with a hurley stick has received a fully suspended sentence.

Craig Courtney (25) was one of five men who pursued two men into a shop. When one of the pursued men used a member of staff as a human shield, Courtney accidentally struck her with a hurley stick he was swinging, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

Courtney of Avonbeg Gardens, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Roberta Rodriguez Brasil at Centra, Old Bawn Shopping Centre, Tallaght, on April 6, 2017. He has six convictions, including three convictions for money laundering.

His co-accused Kane Duffy (27) also of Avonbeg Gardens, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to violent disorder at the same address on the same date. He has 14 convictions, including convictions for road traffic and public order offences.

Garda Natasha McAleese told John Berry BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, the victim was on a break from work in the shop when two men ran inside followed closely by a group of five men which included Courtney and Duffy.

Gda McAleese said one of the pursued men got behind Ms Brasil, grabbed her and used her as a human shield. Courtney swung a hurley stick he was carrying, striking Ms Brasil and knocking both her and the other man onto the ground.

The two accused then left the shop. Duffy was carrying a walking stick during the incident, but he did not strike anyone with it.

Ms Brasil sustained injuries to her head from the strike and to her arm from the fall. She has since returned to her native Brazil, but wants to return to Ireland some day, the court heard.

Gda McAleese agreed with Sarah-Jane O’Callaghan BL, defending Courtney, that it was fair to describe the incident as being “extreme lawlessness”. She agreed that Courtney returned to the shop the following day with flowers, chocolates and a letter of apology.

The garda agreed with counsel that a drug debt had taken over her client’s life at the time, but that he is now drug free.

Ms O’Callaghan said the offence arose from her client’s drug addiction and there were clearly issues between the two groups of men. She said her client was sentenced in 2019 to two years imprisonment for money laundering and pleaded guilty to this offence after being released from custody.

The court heard that Courtney brought €3,000 to court as a token of his remorse and that Duffy brought €1,000. Ms Brasil had previously indicated she would accept these funds.

Judge Patricia Ryan said that in “a perfect world” Courtney would have been sentenced for this offence at the same time as the sentencing for money laundering. She said she took into account his efforts to rehabilitate himself.

Judge Ryan sentenced both Courtney and Duffy to two-and-a-half years imprisonment, but suspended both sentences in their entirety on strict conditions.

She ordered that the €4,000 in total of compensation be handed over to the garda who will then send it on to the injured party.

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