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Home / News / Suspended sentence for man who assaulted gay couple

Suspended sentence for man who assaulted gay couple

A student who assaulted a gay couple and threw homophobic slurs at them as they tried to intervene in a row he was having with his girlfriend has been given a fully-suspended sentence.

Charlie Lawlor, 21, of St Patrick’s Terrace, Monkstown Farm, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to one of the women, and to assaulting her partner during the incident, which occurred at Church St, Dún Laoghaire on 11 August 2022.

Prior to the attack, Lawlor and his girlfriend had been chatting with the couple in a local pub, having just met them that night.

In a joint victim impact statement read out in court by the investigating officer, the women said they were left “emotionally scarred” as the result of the actions of a “homophobic man under the influence of alcohol”.

One of the women required surgery and was left with a scar to the face as a result of the attack, the court heard.

The women said that while this scar was a “permanent reminder and testament of the brutality we endured that night”, their injuries went beyond the physical.

“Our lives have been irrevocably changed by this heinous act,” they said, adding that they hoped the court would take into account the effect the attack had on them as they attempt to rebuild their “shattered sense of security”.

Sentencing Lawlor today, Judge Martin Nolan said Lawlor should be “thoroughly ashamed” not only for his unprovoked attack, but for the abuse he gave the couple.

“He lost control and attacked this unfortunate couple and he was abusive while attacking them. He was very disrespectful and very insulting in the remarks he made,” said Judge Nolan.

The judge noted that one woman sustained a lot of blood loss and had a large number of stitches for the laceration in her mouth, leaving her with facial disfigurement which has caused her significant stress.

The court heard that Lawlor has made €7,000 available in compensation to the more seriously-injured woman.

Judge Nolan ordered him to pay a further €7,000 to this woman and to hand another €1,000 to the other woman within the next nine months. If the women do not wish to accept this compensation, it is to be offered to a local charity.

Lawlor was handed a sentence of two-and-a-half years, which was suspended in full, on condition that he keep the peace for this period.

“You understand that you should be ashamed of yourself?” the judge asked Lawlor, to which he replied: “Absolutely.”

A detective garda told John Gallagher BL, prosecuting, that on the night in question, Lawlor and his girlfriend got chatting to the couple in The Lighthouse pub in Dún Laoghaire.

At one stage in the night, Lawlor and his girlfriend started arguing and she slapped him in the face, the court heard.

They were asked to leave the pub and were arguing outside when the two women approached and tried to intervene. Lawlor then threw a number of homophobic slurs at the women, the court heard.

The women were concerned at the nature of the dispute between Lawlor and his girlfriend, but when one of the women tried to intervene to calm things down, he punched her to the face, causing her to fall to the ground.

She suffered significant injuries as a result, with a laceration to the face that required plastic surgery and numerous stitches inside her mouth. Her partner suffered bruising to her face during the assault.

Lawlor was arrested after he was identified from CCTV and the injured parties’ description of him.

Aidan McCarthy BL, defending, said Lawlor was a “decent young man” with no previous convictions. He accepted that this was “an apparent homophobic assault by a man on two young ladies which would ordinarily merit a custodial sentence”.

He noted there is hate crime legislation coming down the line for these kinds of crimes.

However, he urged Judge Nolan not to jail Lawlor, citing his youth, good character and expressions of remorse.

Lawlor is currently studying a PLC course with plans to go on to university and has saved up the money from his job as a cinema attendant, the court heard.

Mr McCarthy said Lawlor has since attended counselling “to try and understand how he could have committed this type of offence”.

“Once someone does something wrong, all they can do is try and face it,” defence counsel said.

“He has done everything that can be done to face it.”

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