Talented footballer will be sentenced for assault

Talented footballer will be sentenced for assault

By Fiona Ferguson

A TALENTED footballer will be sentenced early next year for an assault he took part in as a teenager 13 years ago.

Stephen “Hoppy” Kinch (29), previously known as Stephen Cleary, was initially due to be sentenced for the offence in 2006 but failed to appear on the day and a bench warrant was issued.

Dublin Courts 4

The court heard Kinch, who has been involved with Crumlin United Football Club and Inchicore Athletic, had remained living in Tallaght but garda checks had not located him as he did not come to any further garda attention and never withdrew social welfare.

He began using his mother's surname - Kinch - as he had no relationship with his father.

Kinch, of Tymon North Road, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Gary Byrne in Tallaght on March 17, 2004.

He has no previous convictions and was 16 at the time of the assault.

Judge Karen O’Connor noted it was Mr Byrne’s view that Kinch had struck him in the face with an iron bar during the incident. She noted Kinch has denied using the iron bar but admitted head butting Mr Byrne during the attack on him. She said it had been a violent attack on a young man outside his home.

She noted Kinch had €2,000 in court and adjourned the case to February to allow him bring a further €4,000.

She said Kinch was now much older, in full time employment and involved in voluntary and charity work. She said she would also seek a probation report and have his suitability for community service assessed. She said this did not indicate she would impose community service.

Sergeant Brian Dineen told Dean Kelly BL, prosecuting, that he was on mobile patrol in the Tallaght area when he came upon a group in a green area and saw a fight.

He approached the group and saw Mr Byrne in a distressed state bleeding from his nose and mouth.

Sgt Dineen saw a blood stained bar on the ground, which appeared to be a handle bar from a child’s scooter.

Mr Byrne told gardai he had gone outside to investigate after hearing a noise at 11.30pm and saw six people, one girl and six males, in the green shouting at him.

He asked them if they had thrown something at his sister’s car and the group pushed the girl towards him.

Mr Byrne said a male he identified as “hoppy” came towards him waving an iron bar. He said he was hit in the face with the bar while another man head butted him, got him in a headlock and hit him.

He said he got free and began backing away as he was afraid to turn his back on the group to run.

His sister and her boyfriend came to his assistance. He said his sister was being attacked by the girl when gardai arrived.

Mr Byrne sustained a broken nose and broken little finger.

His upper front teeth were pushed back, his jaw swollen and his lip cut. He said he did not hit back at the attackers and had just tried to get them off.

Sgt Dineen said Kinch was arrested and interviewed.

He acknowledged he had been involved in the altercation but denied at all stages hitting Mr Byrne with the iron bar. “I gave him a loaf,” he told gardai, accepting that he had head-butted Mr Byrne.

Sgt Dineen agreed with Sarah Jane O’Callaghan BL, defending, that Kinch was the only person identified.

He said he had moved out of Tallaght garda station in 2008 and had checked pulse and the Department of Social Welfare from time to time but Kinch did not appear.

Ms O’Callaghan handed in a number of letters and testimonials as well as newspaper clippings relating to his football playing career. Kinch also wrote a letter of apology to the court.

She said her client had a very troubled background and had been an angry child who made wrong choices.

She said he was now a father, in full time employment, who had not put a foot wrong since.

Ms O’Callaghan said he was very remorseful and was ashamed for not coming forward in relation to the case. She asked the court to deal with the case as leniently as possible.