An assault on an off duty garda who was out celebrating his birthday with his new wife, has had life changing consequences for him, a court heard this afternoon.

It left him with permanent injuries, and affected his promotional prospects in the garda.

36-year-old Dermot Gibson, a garda based in Gort, Co Galway and from West Clare was assaulted by 22-year-old Michael Fitzgerald of Cloughnadromin, Ballysimon, Co Limerick on 16 September 2012.

Mr Gibson had been returning to his wife’s relatives home near St. Patrick's Road in Limerick in the early hours of that day when the assault happened. 

He had chased a youth who had stolen his wife’s handbag, when he met the accused man and asked him about the identity of the other youth.

Limerick Circuit Court heard he had identified himself as a garda to the accused and showed him his ID.

After asking him if he had something behind his back, the accused man then struck him in the head without warning or provocation causing Mr Gibson to fall to the ground hitting his head on the pavement.

He has endured what were described as life changing consequences as a result of the traumatic head injury he suffered.

He has lost his sense of smell and taste, has problems with his vision and hearing, and is unable to drive a patrol car.

He was a detective working in the drugs area and all of these issues are factors in his career.

Judge Carol Moran said this was a very serious case with calamitous and life changing consequences for the victim and he would give his decision on sentencing on 23 May.