Eugene Moloney death: 'One-punch' killings becoming increasingly common

Analysis: Authorities here and in the UK are concerned about the rise in such attacks

An undated family hand-out of Eugene Moloney, who died from a bleed to the brain that occurred because the blow to his neck was so hard he suffered tears to an artery. Photograph: Family hand-out/PA Wire

An undated family hand-out of Eugene Moloney, who died from a bleed to the brain that occurred because the blow to his neck was so hard he suffered tears to an artery. Photograph: Family hand-out/PA Wire

 

Eugene Moloney’s death was an example of a “one-punch” killing. It is a phenomenon police forces in the UK have become so concerned about they have responded in a targeted way with special campaigns.

In Northern Ireland, the PSNI has taken on the “one punch awareness” campaign. It is warns young men between the ages of 18 and 25 years that becoming involved in an argument can result in serious injury or death.

About 20 people have lost their lives in the North since 2004 in such incidents. Figures for the Republic were not readily available.

“The majority of incidents are fuelled by alcohol and can have a devastating impact on the victim and their family,” warns the PSNI campaign. It is being run in traditional media outlets and also via Facebook and other social media.

The campaign is aimed at preventing the kind of attack that left Mr Moloney dead, his family heartbroken and 22-year-old Gary Burch in jail.

As Mr Moloney made his way down a packed pavement on Camden Street after a busy night on the Dublin strip last summer, he would become involved in an apparently harmless verbal exchange near the Palace nightclub with a man in his 20s he had never met before.

CCTV shows Mr Moloney, who was on his way home alone to Portobello after finishing his night celebrating a friend’s upcoming wedding in nearby Hogan’s Pub, stopped walking and turned to face the man with whom he had exchanged words. As he did this, Burch appeared and punched him hard in the neck. Mr Moloney slumped to the ground and died 40 minutes later in St James’s Hospital.

A postmortem revealed he had died from a bleed to the brain that occurred because the blow to his neck was so hard he suffered tears to an artery.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said assault-related manslaughters were now the most common form of manslaughter before the courts. These often occurred after drink or drugs had been taken and aggression arose. She said discharging so many people from pubs and nightclubs was a “recipe for disaster”. She placed the attack at the “lower end of the middle range” of seriousness, saying Burch could not have anticipated his actions would prove fatal.

With two of his 5½-year term suspended and allowing for some seven months already served and 25 per cent off for good behaviour, Burch will be free in 22 months.

The dead man’s brother Seán spoke for the Moloney family after the sentencing saying: “This was an unprovoked attack by an absolute guttersnipe on a harmless middle-aged man.”

When asked whether he felt Burch was remorseful, he said the letter of apology the killer had written to the Moloney family was “a joke”. He also said Burch had smirked when he had seen himself on camera during the trial when the CCTV footage of the incident was played in court as part of the evidence.However, he said the relatively short sentence was “not an unexpected result”.