Seven-year sentence for schizoid attacker
By Declan Conlon and Declan Brennan
A MENTALLY-ill man who slashed a teenage boy’s face with a knife has been jailed for five years.
Joseph Byrne (21) approached the boy as he was walking home from school and accused him of having his X-Box console. When the victim said he didn’t know anything about it Byrne used a blade to cut a 10cm slash down the side of the boy’s face.
The boy later received 36 stitches to close up the deep wound which ran from his ear down to his lip. The resulting scar is likely to be permanent.
Byrne of Mac Uilliam Avenue, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault, causing serious harm, at Balbutcher Lane, Ballymun on February 4, 2014. He has 15 previous convictions, including two for possession of knives.
Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, asked Judge Desmond Hogan to be as lenient as possible when sentencing Byrne. He said Byrne came from a good family, had been suffering from schizophrenia and depression at the time of the attack and had since taken steps to deal with his mental health issues and drug addictions.
But Judge Hogan said the case was at the higher end of the scale of seriousness and imposed a seven-year sentence with the final two years suspended.
Saying that the boy’s facial scar might have implications for him in future job interviews or social situations, Judge Hogan said: “In times past a scar on a young man’s face wouldn’t be regarded as bad as one on a young lady’s face. But times have changed.”
Judge Hogan ordered that Byrne be given whatever psychiatric help was available while in custody, and for probation services to monitor him for 12 months upon his release.
At a sentencing hearing in July Garda Niall Minnock told counsel that Byrne had recently broken up with a girl and had left property including the X-box with her. On the day of the attack he apparently believed the victim had the console.
He got out of a car and walked to the victim and spoke to him before cutting him. He then got back into the car. The victim was completely unknown to him or his ex-girlfriend.
Byrne’s father took the stand to apologise for his son’s behaviour, whom he said had stopped taking his medication at the time, leading to extreme confusion, agitation and, from time to time, aggression.
He testified that he had made a couple of attempts to end his own life. “We were extremely concerned over him,” he said.