A 27-year-old man who pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Graham Tobin in a single-punch attack in Co Monaghan last October has been sentenced to eight years in jail.
Francis Hughes with an address in Oram, Castleblayney, admitted punching Graham Tobin at the same address, where a number of people had gathered to watch a Conor McGregor MMA fight.
Handing down the sentence today, Judge John Aylmer said the case was an exceptionally serious unprovoked attack.
We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
He noted the failure of Hughes to seek medical attention after the incident, the prevention of others to seek medical help and his suggestion at one point to put the victim in the boot of his car.
Judge Alymer said the severity of the punch to the nose caused a number of fractures to Mr Tobin and noted Hughes' expression of satisfaction, according to witnesses, when he knocked Mr Tobin out.
However, he said he was taking into account the fact Hughes made an early guilty plea and while he did not cooperate with the garda investigation he handed himself in to gardaí for interview.
Judge Alymer said Hughes has been described as a model prisoner who had obtained a certificate in an alternatives to violence project.
The family of Mr Tobin reacted emotionally when the sentence was handed down.
Mr Tobin's wife, Ramona, left the courtroom shortly afterwards in tears.
Monaghan Circuit Court was told the victim had been struck in the face by Hughes in what was described as an "unprovoked assault".
Mr Tobin fell back and struck his head on a step at the back of the house.
He never regained consciousness and died at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin 11 days later. The father-of-four suffered injuries to the head and brain that included a fractured skull.
Mr Tobin was one of a number of people who had gone to the house to watch a UFC fight involving McGregor. The fight ended at around 5am.
The court was also told that a female witness who said she saw the attack believed it happened at about 6am.
It was not until 9.55am that the ambulance service was called and gardaí were alerted.
Sergeant John Daly, who led the investigation, said a number of witnesses were interviewed and had reported that Hughes initially claimed that the injured man was fine.
He told the court the witnesses said that Hughes had pulled down the blinds, locked the doors and asked people not to call an ambulance saying: "I'm not going back to jail."
The female witness and another man left the house shortly before 10am. She then called the ambulance service, but did so anonymously because she was in fear.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Tobin's wife said it was difficult enough to accept that her husband had died from a violent assault, but that this was compounded by the way that he was left lying for hours in a stranger's house while critically injured.
Hughes's Defence Counsel told the court that he believed his client was genuinely remorseful for what happened.
He said that Hughes knew that he did something that was "terribly wrong", despite the comments attributed to him in the immediate aftermath, when he would have been "out of his mind" on drink and drugs.
The court heard Hughes had 74 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic and public order offences, with only one being for an assault.