High Court awards €36,000 to man who lost three teeth in unprovoked assault

The judge awarded the sum to Cathal Bourke after the defendant failed to contest the proceedings

The High Court has awarded more than €36,000 to a man who had three teeth knocked out in an unprovoked assault.

Cathal Bourke (43), of Emo, Portlaoise, Co Laois, sued Mark Bennett over the incident at the defendant’s home at The Commons, The Rock, Mountmellick, Co Laois.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons awarded Mr Bourke €36,200 in default of a defence, after Mr Bennett failed to contest the proceedings.

Dean Regan BL, instructed by FH O’Reilly solicitors, told the court that Mr Bourke, who was a healthcare worker at the time and now works installing coffee machines, went to see Mr Bennett on June 23rd, 2017.

Mr Bourke told the court he went to “clear the air” in relation to money he had repaid to Mr Bennett by leaving it in his letterbox.

Mr Bennett was not there when he arrived but a short time later he drove up in a van.

Mr Bennett got out and, the judge said, for “reasons that are still unclear”, hit Mr Bourke twice in quick succession.

Mr Bourke described them as “sucker punches” in the mouth. When he looked at the ground, he could see two of his teeth.

He got into his own car and left as quickly as possible. The judge said Mr Bourke described it as a “very violent attack”.

He attended an emergency department but there was little the hospital could do for him as the bleeding had stopped and he was prescribed pain medication.

He was out of work for a few weeks and had to have dental treatment. His two front teeth were knocked out in the incident and a third tooth fell out a number of days later, the court heard.

The judge said the injuries were caused by a deliberate act on the part of Mr Bennett to “engage in an unprovoked assault”.

He said he was entitled to €17,500 for pain and suffering for the loss of his teeth and €7,500 in aggravated damages for the psychological impact on him. He said Mr Bourke had described himself as a calm and easy-going person before the assault and is now socially anxious.

Adding to those figures a sum of €11,200 for special damages, this gave a total award of €36,200, the judge said.