Man jailed for savage punch that left victim with life-threatening injuries

Man Jailed For Savage Punch That Left Victim With Life-Threatening Injuries
31/07/2023 Jason Owens who was jailed today for assault causing harm leaving the CCJ in Dublin. Photo Collins Courts
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Eimear Dodd

A man who struck another man with a “savage and powerful punch” in the toilets of a pub causing life-threatening injuries has been handed a prison sentence.

Jason Owens (34) of Oak Grove, Royal Oak, Santry, Dublin 9 pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Conor Kelly causing him serious harm at the Cock and Bull pub in Coolock on January 1st, 2020.


Imposing sentence on Monday, Judge Martin Nolan said Owens “lost control” at a certain point for “reasons only known to himself” and punched Mr Kelly.

Judge Nolan said the attack was “unprovoked” and the punch was “savage and powerful”. Noting CCTV of the incident was shown to the court, Judge Nolan said the punch seemed to be “extraordinarily effective” and noted that Owens has experience in Taekwon-Do, which “explains to some degree the proficiency in the way he punched”.

Judge Nolan said Owens “undoubtedly deserves” a custodial sentence “due to his reckless behaviour on the night”. He said that the court accepts Owens didn't intend to cause the injuries sustained by Mr Kelly, but “when you punch someone with such savagery, serious injury is always possible”.

He handed Owens a sentence of three and a half years with the final 12 months suspended on strict conditions.


A local garda told Maddie Grant BL, prosecuting, that the injured party was on a night out with friends when he encountered Owens in the toilets of the pub. Both men had never met each other before this.


A witness told gardaí that the men engaged in friendly conversation while washing their hands.

While the men continued to chat, Mr Kelly leaned over to whisper something to Owens, who pushed and hit him once with his elbow.

Mr Kelly fell to the ground and was then kicked once in the head by Owens before he left. Other bystanders came to the assistance of Mr Kelly who was unresponsive and had a large gash on his head.


Mr Kelly was taken by ambulance to Beaumont Hospital where a CT scan showed he had sustained haemorrhaging to his brain and a fracture. He required immediate surgery and spent a total of 18 days in the intensive care and high dependency units of the hospital.

Mr Kelly underwent four surgeries before he was released from hospital in February. He also received follow-up care from the National Rehabilitation Hospital. A medical report was read to the court, in which a doctor said Mr Kelly had sustained a “severe life-threatening injury”.

He has no memory of the assault, but identified himself on CCTV.

CCTV footage of the incident was played to the court.


Owens was identified by gardaí from the CCTV and presented him at the garda station where he was interviewed three times, but nothing of evidential value was obtained.

He has no previous convictions and has not come to recent garda attention.

Ms Grant said it is the Director of Public Prosecution's view that the headline sentence for this case should be within the range of seven and a half to 15 years.

The garda agreed with James McGowan SC, defending, that while Owens had pleaded guilty on the trial date, this was indicated to the prosecution in advance.


Traumatic brain injury

Reading the victim impact statement onto the record, Mr Kelly said he remains unsure why he was assaulted that night. He said the effects of that night will never go away for him and he will “never feel safe again”.

He said he sustained a traumatic brain injury and is living with ongoing side effects of this condition.

He said he has suffered a “severe identify crisis” since this incident. While he “left home as myself, someone I'll never see again”, there are now “times when I don't recognise myself”.

He is unable to play sports such as football and GAA and had to defer his apprenticeship to take time to recover.

Victim impact statements from Mr Kelly's family were also handed to the court.

Mr McGowan said his client had written a letter of apology to Mr Kelly and to the court. A number of references from friends and family were also provided to the court along with a testimonial from an interfaith minister.

Owens had represented Ireland internationally in Taekwon-Do and a letter from an instructor was also given to the court.

Mr McGowan said a psychological assessment places Owens at low risk of re-offending. He submitted to the court that his client had acted “out of character” and that this was a “one punch attack” despite the subsequent kick. Owens had brought €10,000 to court as a gesture of remorse.

He asked the court for as much leniency as possible for his client.

The court heard Mr Kelly wants the money to be donated to Acquired Brain Injury Ireland.

Judge Nolan told Owens if he had intentionally caused these injuries, he would have been going to prison for a longer period.

He set a headline sentence of seven years noting this was a “very serious crime”.

“I take the view that you did not intend to injure him and it was a reckless act. The court thinks you intended to punch him, and is satisfied that you did not intend to injure him in the way he was injured. But your actions caused it.”

Judge Nolan expressed his best wishes to Mr Kelly for the future and for his ongoing recovery.

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