A woman has been given a suspended two-year sentence for biting another woman’s breast during a row over a man in a pub.
Tara Boyle (31), with an address at Cluain Rí, Athenry, pleaded guilty at Galway Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Aoife O'Brien (33), causing her harm, at Monroe's Tavern, Dominick Street, Galway, on October 20th, 2013.
Garda Vicky Duggan told the sentence hearing the assault took place at 1.50am after an exchange of words between both women regarding Boyle's boyfriend.
Garda Duggan said a friend of the victim had been “chatting up” Boyle’s boyfriend in the pub that night and Boyle approached the victim to tell her to get her friend to stop “coming on” to her boyfriend, or she would pull her hair out.
Ms O’Brien told her it was none of her business, and words exchanged between both women led to the assault, whereby Boyle bit Ms O’Brien on her left breast as the pair grappled with each other on the floor.
Boyle claimed she bit Ms O’Brien because she was pulling her hair out as they fought on the floor.
Garda Duggan agreed with prosecuting barrister Conor Fahy that there was some degree of provocation involved.
In a victim impact statement read to the court by the garda, Ms O’Brien said she had to return her wedding dress and order a different one for her May wedding last year due to the permanent scar still visible on her breast.
She said she could no longer enjoy herself when out socialising and was afraid of meeting Boyle.
‘I didn’t deserve to be scarred’
Her children had asked her questions about the scar and she knew she would have to live with it for the rest of her life. “I didn’t deserve to be scarred,” she stated.
The victim had to have a Hepatitis C vaccination as she is a health care worker. The scar may require plastic surgery, and she had to attend for follow-up blood screening for a year after the attack.
Defence barrister Brendan Browne said his client had not come to Garda attention since this incident.
He said she had two children from two previous relationships and has had a new partner for the last three years.
He said his client could only secure the release of her own hair during the assault by doing what she did to the victim.
A very positive report on his client had been handed into court, Mr Browne added.
Judge Rory McCabe said Boyle had only changed her plea to guilty after a jury had been empanelled to hear evidence in the trial in February.
He said the offence carried a maximum five-year sentence, but given Boyle’s plea, albeit late, and the fact she had no previous convictions for violent crime, the judge said the appropriate sentence was three years in prison.
In further mitigation, he said Boyle had not come to adverse Garda attention since and she had two children, but perhaps, he said, she should have thought of them before she did this.
The judge did not accept Boyle had been provoked. “She should have walked away, but she didn’t,” he said.
The only thing Boyle had going for her, the judge said, was the very positive probation report before the court and taking that into account, he imposed a two-year sentence which he suspended for five years.
“What would your children think if they knew about this?” Judge McCabe asked Boyle. “They would be highly ashamed,” she replied.