A 55-year-old man will be sentenced in July for an assault on traditional musician Noel Hill that left him with lasting injuries and long term psychological damage.
Michael Folan from An Teach Mór, Lettermullen in Co Galway had pleaded guilty to a charge of intentionally or recklessly causing harm to Mr Hill in a pub on 26 December 2008.
Galway Circuit Criminal Court heard Folan had subjected Mr Hill to a sustained attack in a toilet at Tí Phádraig Mháirtín Beag, in Lettermore.
At the time, Folan was in dispute with the musician over payment for renovation work carried out on his home and the matter was in the hands of solicitors for both parties.
In a lengthy victim impact statement, Mr Hill told the Court that the assault had left him "a destroyed man", with his gift for music and his spirit broken.
He said he had been attacked from behind by Folan who had kicked him repeatedly in the head, fracturing his eye socket and skull as well as causing a deep laceration to his left ear.
Mr Hill suffered severe injuries to his neck, arms, hands and shoulder.
Folan's solicitor told the court his client was receiving treatment for alcohol and anger management issues.
Judge Rory McCabe said the offences were at the serious end of the scale and he described the attack as violent, cowardly and despicable.
He said it was likely that a custodial sentence would be imposed.
However, he postponed sentencing until July, for further reports on Folan's efforts to deal with issues outlined in court.
Mr Hill made a lengthy statement to the court, during which he gave an emotional testimony on the impact the assault had on him.
He said it left him facing an endless spiral of hospital beds, 24-hour care, medication, extreme pain, nightmares, surgery and depression.
He had to have operations to reconstruct parts of his face and his left eye socket. A central nerve to his face had been completely severed, resulting in partial paralysis.
Mr Hill said the psychological impact of the attack endured to the present day.
He was haunted by the events of the night in question and had been referred to psychiatric services where he had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The musician said he lived in fear of another attack and suffered from flashbacks during which he would see Folan "directly in front of him".
The stress of the assault led to the break-up of his relationship with his partner and Mr Hill said his children had suffered the strain of the attack in different ways too.
He told Judge McCabe how he had a dispute with Folan over work carried out on his home.
He claimed Folan was seeking €1,800 and was putting stories about that he was trying to do him out of the money he was due.
In subsequent questioning, Mr Hill denied that the outstanding figure was €31,000 and said he had documentary evidence to prove this was not the case.
He described the attack as sudden and opportunistic which caused "terror, suffering, hardship and loss".
Mr Hill broke down as he described how he had a near death experience, during which he said he saw his deceased father and uncle.
He said he heard his father's voice telling him to go back to his children because he was not yet ready to join him.
He said he believed Folan intended to kill him on the night of the attack and he had left him with a sense of the world that was very bleak.
The assault has significantly affected on his music career. Mr Hill told the court that playing the concertina involved the use of both hands and that he could not do this for months after the incident.
Even today he said he can only play for short periods and he requires physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory medication and acupuncture if he wants to play a concert.
Mr Hill said he had been forced to restrict his playing to minimise his pain.
He also drew attention to the protracted nature of the proceedings.
Folan changed his plea to guilty on the second day of the trial last November.
Prior to that, Mr Hill said the defendant had tried to have the trial heard through Irish, going as far as the Supreme Court in an effort to secure this.
He said Folan could have spared him the anguish of waiting for a trial for almost six years, had he admitted his guilt earlier.
He said the delay was "another hell upon hell" and he said he believed Folan knew this was the case.
Describing the assault as violent, cowardly and despicable, Judge McCabe said the impact it had on the victim was clear.
He also questioned the timing of Folan's engagement with treatment providers to deal with the anger and alcohol issues and wondered was it simply an attempt to put a veneer on his conduct to mitigate the possible punishment.