A 44-year-old man was sentenced to five years in prison for a one kick assault that left an acquaintance with "catastrophic" life-long injuries.
Appearing before Judge Francis Comerford at Roscommon Circuit Court for sentencing, Arturas Sakurskis, with an address at Warren Avenue, Sycamore Crescent, Boyle, had previously pleaded guilty to seriously assaulting Gintautas Motiejunas in the early hours of 6 February 2017, at Erris Bay, Boyle.
Both men are originally from the same town in Lithuania.
The attack had resulted in a severe, life-threatening injury that required the victim to be airlifted to hospital, where he had been in a coma for a week and a half and doctors said Mr Motiejunas was lucky to be alive.
A 43-year-old father-of-four, he was formerly a very active man who loved the outdoors and fishing and had worked as an electrician.
He had been living in Ireland since 2003 and had hoped to open his own business.
Mr Motiejunas was unlikely to ever make a full recovery and required help with day-to-day activities, the court was told.
Now in a nursing home, he required a wheelchair, was deaf in one ear, and had paralysis on the left side of his body, the court heard.
He also suffered from cognitive and emotional difficulties as a result of the attack.
The court heard that the two men had been drinking at the house and had consumed a large amount of vodka.
An eyewitness told gardaí that the men, who had known each other for ten years, were talking and laughing at the kitchen table.
However, at around 4am "something soured" between the two men, defence senior counsel John Shortt said, and Sakurskis delivered a single kick to Mr Motiejunas’ head.
After this Mr Motiejunas collapsed and Sakurskis had a cigarette and went home.
Investigating Garda Michael Dwyer, who arrived at the scene shortly after the incident, found Mr Motiejunas on the floor of the kitchen, bleeding from the ear with swelling on the right side of his face and head.
He agreed with Mr Shortt that alcohol had been a major factor in the assault. When he was arrested and brought to the garda station shortly afterwards, Sakurskis said he had no recollection of the incident.
Mr Shortt said his client, a father-of-two, expressed his absolute sorrow at the assault and had gathered €5,000 compensation as a symbolic gesture.
He also pointed to his client’s plea of guilty as a mitigating factor.
Garda Dwyer read out victim impact statements on behalf of Mr Motiejunas’ daughter and sister, and his mother, who had travelled from Lithuania for the hearing.
The family said their lives had been turned upside down by the attack on their "beloved, smiling" relative and things would never be the same. They had shed "endless tears" over what had happened.
Sentencing Judge Comerford said the harm done had been catastrophic and that nothing the court did would undo that.
While the attack had not been premeditated or prolonged, it fell into the higher range of offending as a kick was calculated to cause brain injury, he said.
He imposed eight-and-a-half years in prison, suspending the final three-and-a-half years on condition that Sakurskis submit himself to the supervision of the probation service post release and follow all its directions particularly in relation to addiction issues.
The sentence was backdated to take account of the five-and-a-half months already served.
He also ordered the compensation to be paid to the victim.