Brain-injured Dublin barman awarded over €700,000 for street assault

By Ann O'Loughlin

A Dublin barman who sustained a traumatic brain injury in a street assault has been awarded €710,000 by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal.

Stephen Plunkett suffered injuries almost 12 years ago after an altercation with a group which involved horse play and he was later chased and fell to the ground banging his head.

He was also kicked repeatedly around the head.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross in the High Court today approved the award to Mr Plunkett (32) from Blackrock, Dublin over the assault at Torquay Road, Foxrock, Dublin on August 21, 2006.

Eoin McCullough SC told the court a sole member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal had assessed that Mr Plunkett was 50% responsible and an award of €634,000 was reduced to €317,000.

The Plunketts went to the High Court to appeal that decision and asked the matter be considered at a full oral hearing before a three-member Tribunal.

In its determination, that three-member Tribunal noted that having examined the Garda report of the case the evidence showed that Mr Plunkett, while part of a group, verbally abused another group of people earlier on in the evening.

This appeared to have been resolved by the shaking of hands between the two groups.

Later in the evening, Mr Plunkett in “horse play” appeared to strike one of the other group on the back of the head with a light bamboo type stick and the group gave chase.

Mr Plunkett fell to the ground, struck his head and was kicked by others while on the ground.

The Tribunal accepted Mr Plunkett was the victim of an assault and it was satisfied Mr Plunkett suffered his injuries as a result of a criminal act and should be admitted to the scheme.

While the Tribunal stressed it was in no way of the view Mr Plunkett deserved the serious assault that occurred it could not ignore that the first physical assault which happened was perpetrated by him.

It acknowledged this was out of character for Mr Plunkett but it deemed Mr Plunkett was partially responsible in the case and decided there should be a deduction of 40% on the final award giving a total award of €710,000.

Approving the award Mr Justice Kevin Cross wished Mr Plunkett and his family well for the future.

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