A man who was one of a group of four who held their victim for six hours, stabbing him multiple times and severing most of his right ear off, has been jailed for seven and a half years.
Sam Maughan (26) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to causing serious harm to Mark Burke (43) on August 1st, 2018 at the victim’s home in Whitefriars Gardens, Dublin 8.
Detective Garda Mark Dennehy said Mr Burke had allowed the men into his home after his daughter asked if she could have some people over, but when the group started to cause some trouble, he asked everyone to leave.
All the girls left but four males in the group remained and someone locked Burke’s front door keeping them all in his flat.
Attack with bottle
Det Gda Dennehy told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting that when Mr Burke asked the men to leave one of them hit him in the face with a bottle splitting his lip. He was then ordered into the sitting room where the group continued to hit him over the head with the bottle.
The main instigator of the group, who is due to go on trial and cannot be identified for fear of prejudicing the upcoming trial, told the other three: “If you don’t join in, it will happen to you”.
This same man then instructed one of the group to get a scissors and said: “I am going to show you how to cut someone up”. Mr Burke was then held down while this man tried to cut his right ear with the scissors.
Det Gda Dennehy said it was accepted that Maughan was not the ringleader of this group, but he did take part in the attack.
Cut the victim's ear
He agreed that Maughan and the other three each took it in turn to cut the man’s right ear until most of it was severed. Mr Burke was also stabbed multiple times with a second scissors.
The victim was then taken to the bathroom where he was forced to get into the bathtub and the taps were turned on. A mirror was broken over Mr Burke’s head and the toilet cistern was used to hit him on the head and legs.
At one point the lead from a phone charger was forced down his throat while the victim was told “you are dead tonight”.
Det Gda Dennehy told Ms Small that Maughan didn’t take part in the attack in Mr Burke’s bathroom.
Covered in blood
At some point after 9am the group left Mr Burke’s flat and gardaí got a call informing them that there was a group of males in a nearby park who were covered in blood.
The men were later approached by gardaí and a partly severed ear was found nearby.
Det Gda Dennehy said Mr Burke was discovered outside his flat at 10am that morning. He had collapsed.
He was taken to St James’s Hospital where he was treated for blood loss and extensive cuts to his head, face, torso and limbs, and it was noted that most of his right ear had been cut off.
Det Gda Dennehy said Maughan was homeless at the time and appeared at his hostel that morning crying. He told staff there that he had stabbed a man in the arms, legs and chest, and he had slit his ear. He was covered in blood and there was a strong smell of alcohol off him. He admitted that he had taken cocaine.
Maughan was arrested later that same day and blood staining on his clothes matched that of Mr Burke’s.
Det Gda Dennehy said Maughan had 88 convictions, seven of which had been dealt with in the Circuit Court and involved offences for possession of knives, false imprisonment, robbery, assault and public order.
He agreed with Michael Bowman SC, defending, that Maughan was not the ringleader and had not locked the door to Mr Burke’s flat.
He accepted he had been homeless from the age of 18, having been moved between 20 care homes from the age of 11.
Det Gda Dennehy accepted that Maughan struggled with addiction and was the only one of the four men to plead guilty. The other three males are all due to stand trial and therefore cannot be identified.
Deeply disturbing case
Mr Bowman described it as “a deeply disturbing case” and said Mr Burke had to “undergo the most shocking of ordeals”.
He submitted that there were different degrees of moral culpability within the group and asked the court to accept that what happened “resonated deeply” with his client as demonstrated by the fact that he was crying when he spoke to the hostel staff.
Mr Bowman said his client’s sister had written a letter to the court outlining how he has been a good support to her.
She said her brother’s “repetitive terms of incarceration represent the only kind of stability he has experienced” in his life.
“He at least knows where he is and he knows he will be fed there,” counsel commented on his client’s time in custody. He added that Maughan is doing well in prison since his remand there last month.
Judge Martin Nolan said the evening had commenced in an innocent enough way but after certain "misbehaviours", the group was ordered to leave and these men didn’t.
“At a certain point events took a sinister turn” and all four attacked the victim in the “most grievous way”.
“To say the least, Mr Burke was shook, and he was in a dreadful condition and left with disfigurements,” Judge Nolan said.
He said it was hard to imagine what motivated the men but “on the night in question collective madness and badness took over”.
Judge Nolan accepted that Maughan was not as culpable as some of the others and acknowledged that he is truly remorseful. He said he was happy Maughan was “not a psychopath and had a conscience”.
He acknowledged Maughan had “no stability in his life” but said he had to sentence him for “really bad behaviour” before he imposed a seven and half year jail term.