A garda, sentenced for assault yesterday, walked free today after a Circuit Court Judge in Cork revised his 18-month prison sentence.

Yesterday, Garda Dean Foley, who is from Blarney, was given an 18-month sentence with 12 months suspended, after he pleaded guilty to the serious assault of a man in Cork city while he was off duty.

However, Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin allowed the case to be re-entered for hearing today, after he accepted that it was both appropriate and lawful to hear the unusual application in the current session.

Today, Foley's Defence Counsel Donal O'Sullivan told the court that he had failed to mention yesterday a principle in law, which accepted that some mitigation in sentencing is granted to former guards and prison officers because they were likely to suffer more in prison.

He told the court that prison officers have said that his client, who is likely to lose his job, will be taken to the Midlands Prison where he will be isolated from other prisoners in a specific wing, kept under close supervision and restricted in his movements.

Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin said that it is likely that if this had been argued yesterday he would have adjourned the case, with the accused remanded in custody and sentenced today.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said that 'we are in a completely different place today to where we were yesterday and if a point had to be made then perhaps it has been made'.

After considering the argument raised by the garda's counsel, that he might not be able to advance this argument in the event of an appeal (in the court of Criminal Appeal), Judge Ó Donnabháin said he was concerned that unfairness might result, and so he affirmed the 18-month prison sentence, but suspended it.

Foley had become the first garda to receive a custodial sentence since the establishment of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission in 2007.