Three-year jail term for hammer attack on chef

Dominic Hayes set to walk free this year even though expert says high risk of reoffending

Judge Gerard Keyes said “this State does not have facilities to adequately deal with a person of your [Hayes] state or medical condition”. Photograph: Getty Images

Judge Gerard Keyes said “this State does not have facilities to adequately deal with a person of your [Hayes] state or medical condition”. Photograph: Getty Images

 

A 24-year-old man who carried out an unprovoked hammer attack from behind on a defenceless chef for a €9.50 packet of Benson & Hedges cigarettes has been sentenced to three years in prison.

However, Dominic Hayes of Inis Eagla, Shannon, who an expert says has a high risk of reoffending, will walk free from jail later this year.

This arises from Hayes being in custody in relation to the offence since August of 2013 and Judge Gerard Keyes suspending the last three months of the three-year term.

With remission for good behaviour in jail, Hayes can expect to walk free towards the end of this year.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Keyes said that Hayes was fortunate not to be before the court on a more serious offence.

He said: “Hitting someone on the head with a hammer can lead to death or permanent disability.”

In the case, Garda Lorraine Quain said that Hayes approached Paul Culligan (27) from behind on August 4th, 2013, and struck him twice on the head with a hammer.

With blood streaming from his head wounds, Mr Culligan lost consciousness briefly and Hayes dragged him to a nearby alley and struck him again with the hammer breaking his collar bone as he recovered consciousness.

Hayes pleaded guilty to robbing Mr Culligan at Coill Mhara, Shannon, and he made away with the packet of cigarettes – Hayes went through Mr Culligan’s pockets and wallet and found no money.

The two hammer blows to Mr Culligan’s head required eight staples to his head at Limerick A&E department and he was out of work for eight weeks as a result of the broken collarbone.

Garda Quain told the court that Hayes told Mr Culligan that if he told gardaí about the assault “he would put a bullet through his head”.

Traumatised

Garda Quain said that the assault on Mr Culligan was “unprovoked” and said that the victim was “in fear of his life”.

“The two never had any dealings with each other before the robbery,” she said.

Garda Quain said that Hayes has a history of violent crime and had only been released from prison after serving three years for an aggravated assault on May 31st, 2013.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Culligan said: “This attack has left me frightened. I don’t go out anymore unless I have someone with me. This attack has had a severe effect on all of my life.”

Garda Quain said that Hayes has 38 previous convictions including a number of road traffic offences with the first conviction dating from 2009.

Judge Keyes said that Hayes had been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder and a psychiatrist’s report stated that there was a high risk of reoffending.

“Unfortunately, this State does not have facilities to adequately deal with a person of your state or medical condition. It is not in this country, we don’t have it in this country. Since I have been on the bench, this has been the case,” he said.

Judge Keyes added: “I have heard nothing emanating from any source that this is going to change, but I have to protect society. If there was an adequate facility that would have the same effect of jail, I would direct you go there and seek help.”

Judge Keyes suspended the final three months on condition that Hayes enter a bond to be of good behaviour, that he submit to the directions of the probation service including any directions that relate to programmes or medical treatment.