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Man avoids jail with pledge of €20k compensation for knife victim

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AN Ennis man who slashed his victim across the face with a kitchen knife leaving him with a 20cm wound has walked free from court.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Brian O’Callaghan imposed a suspended three-year sentence on William McDonagh (31) for the assault causing harm of Wayne Higgins (25) in February 2019 in Ennis.

Judge O’Callaghan said that he was “somewhat reluctantly” suspending the three year jail term on Mr McDonagh on condition that he pay €20,000 compensation to Mr Higgins.

The judge said that Mr McDonagh “will work for his victim for the next three years”, adding “It is a substantial payment.”

Mr McDonagh had €2,500 in court for Mr Higgins and Judge O’Callaghan has ordered Mr McDonagh to pay the remainder in three tranches of €6,000, €6,000 and €5,500 over the next three years.

Judge O’Callaghan said that Mr McDonagh’s actions in injuring Mr Higgins “were nothing short of appalling”.

He said, “It could easily have resulted in Mr Higgins losing an eye.”

Mr Higgin’s ‘deep scar’ runs from his left nostril to his hairline.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Higgins said, “On the night I was the victim of a terrible attack where my face was slashed with a knife.

“I was left with 14 stitches to the left hand side of my face very close to my left eye. As a result of my injury I have lost feeling in part of my face.”

He said that he is on medication for nerve damage.

“I have a lazy eye which irritates me all day nearly every day. I am left with a deep scar from above my left temple.”

Mr Higgins said that he has been left in serious depression by the knife attack and the big scar on his face “will haunt me forever”.

Mr McDonagh, with addresses at Hazelbrook House, Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin, and Clancy Park, Ennis, had pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Wayne Higgins and the production of a kitchen knife during the course of the assault.

However after a two-day trial at Ennis Circuit Court in October last year, a jury convicted Mr McDonagh of the two offences.

In evidence, Wayne Higgins, originally from Kilmaley and who has lived in Ennis, told the jury that he had been staying at the Laurel Lodge homeless hostel around the time of the assault.

Mr Higgins said that on the night of February 10, 2019 he was refused entry to Laurel Lodge because he had been drinking.

After being unsuccessful in his attempts to stay at a relative’s house in Hermitage, Mr Higgins was waiting for a lift when he met William McDonagh and some members of his family, the trial heard. The jury was told an altercation developed.

Mr Higgins said William McDonagh “jumped over his mother’s shoulder” and “slashed me with a knife”.

“I remember looking up and seeing the glare of the blade,” Mr Higgins added.

The jury heard Mr Higgins ran to a friend’s house in Drumbiggle Drive and called an ambulance.

The jury were shown photos of Mr Higgins taken after the attack.

They showed a bloody wound from the victim’s left temple to his left cheek.

“It felt like my face was falling off,” Mr Higgins told the jury.

Mr Higgins said he felt “horrible” after the attack and now has no feeling in the left side of his face.

At the sentencing hearing, counsel for Mr McDonagh, Patrick Whyms BL said that his client wishes to apologise to Mr Higgins.

Mr Whyms said that Mr McDonagh has rehabilitated himself – he has got a job and has stopped engaging in criminal behaviour.

Mr Whyms stated that Mr McDonagh – who has had addiction issues since he was 16 – is deemed to be drug-free.

Mr Whyms stated that Mr McDonagh comes from a large family, has lived in Ennis all his life and is currently working in Dublin.

Mr McDonagh has 39 previous convictions including 21 that are road traffic related. Seven for theft and nine drug-related offences.

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