Man jailed for 13 years for unprovoked attack on pensioner

Jonathan O’Driscoll stamped on victim’s head repeatedly and broke eight of his ribs

Christy O’Callaghan: severely injured in an attack in  Macroom

Christy O’Callaghan: severely injured in an attack in Macroom


A man has been jailed for 13 years for an unprovoked assault on a 75-year-old man who spent almost a year in hospital after his head was stamped on repeatedly.

Jonathan O’Driscoll (31), with an address at Coolcower House, Macroom but originally from Dan Corkery Place in the town, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Christy O’Callaghan, then aged 73, at Sleaveen East, Macroom on March 21st, 2019. Mr O’Callaghan is now living in a nursing home.

At Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Det Garda Alan O’Sullivan told how O’Driscoll dragged Mr O’Callaghan from his van at the Dunnes Stores car park in Macroom just before midnight. He threw him around the ground before punching and kicking him during a 14 minute attack which was captured on CCTV.

The footage showed O’Driscoll stamping on Mr O’Callaghan’s head four times in a five second period before kicking him repeatedly into the ribs.

The attack was spotted by a passerby who raised the alarm.

The court heard gardaí from Macroom arrived on the scene to find O’Driscoll cradling Mr O’Callaghan in his arms, pretending to care for him as if he had nothing to do with the assault.

However, when gardaí searched O’Driscoll, they found Mr O’Callaghan’s wallet and watch. He later admitted the assault and expressed remorse, said Det Garda O’Sullivan.

Mr O’Callaghan suffered several broken bones in his face, a broken collar bone, eight broken ribs, a smashed thigh bone and a collapsed lung. He spent two weeks in intensive care and, after 11 months in hospital, had to go into a nursing home as he could no longer look after himself.

Mr O’Callaghan was not in court but in a victim impact statement written while in hospital and read on his behalf by Det Garda O’Sullivan, he described how his life had been changed by the unprovoked attack by someone did not know.

“Prior to the crime, I had a nice life. I never married and was a private person. I enjoyed working with greyhounds and used to attend the greyhound track twice a week …. I had made a lot of good friends through the dogs,” said Mr O’Callaghan, a champion greyhound trainer.

Living hell

“Since I was so badly assaulted in March 2019, my life has totally changed. Nobody will ever know half of what I suffered, it is absolutely dreadful. Aside from the physical injuries and pain, the loneliness of lying here on my hospital bed is terrible altogether.

“I have lost my friends and sometimes I wish I was dead. You have ruined everything. I wonder did you realise what you were doing. You took away my whole life. I miss the life I had and the person I was. You have no way of replacing my life.

“I was an avid reader, I used to three to four books a week. I can no longer read due to my head injury as my sight is nearly gone and I cannot walk unaided ... I don’t think I will ever be allowed home again unaccompanied and this breaks my heart.”

He told how he is now cared for in a nursing home and is so limited in his abilities that he has to be helped to go to the toilet, usually by a female nurse, which he finds embarrassing and degrading. “You took away my basic human rights,” he told O’Driscoll.

Pleading for leniency, defence counsel Siobhan Lankford SC acknowledged it was a very violent assault but said her client had a difficult upbringing. His mother suffered from dementia and her client suffered from depression and alcohol and medication abuse.

She said O’Driscoll had been brought by the gardaí to St Michael’s Psychiatric Unit at the Mercy University Hospital following a psychotic episode two weeks before the assault and he had wanted to stay there as he feared he might harm himself or others. He was discharged after four days.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said the assault was notable for being so vicious, prolonged, determined and entirely unprovoked.

“The consequences have been devastating for this poor man - he has been left in a state of living hell and he realises just how bad his situation is. The simple things of life that he enjoyed are gone from him due to the violent nature of this assault and he will carry this for the rest of his life.”

Judge Ó Donnabháin said he believed it was a particularly bad assault at the upper end of the scale for such offences and he sentenced O’Driscoll to 15 years in jail but he suspended the final two years to take account of his guilty plea and backdated it to March 2019 when he first went into custody.