A judge has warned a boxer who punched a supermarket security guard that a suspended prison sentence of just under two years imposed should be seen as his ‘first and last chance’.
Martin Collins (26) of Belmayne Avenue, Clongriffen, Dublin 13, pleaded guilty to assault causing damage to Tesco, Omni Shopping Centre, Santry on July 5, 2019.
Imposing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday October 20, Judge Martin Nolan said the defendant was a “strong man who shouldn’t have done it and knows it”. He sentenced Collins to a 21-month suspended prison sentence under strict conditions.
The investigating guard told the court that the accused entered the Tesco store with his partner on the day in question. Collins was seen grocery shopping and buying cigarettes at checkouts, without making payment for the groceries.
The accused was then arrested by a security guard, who asked him to pay for groceries. The security guard told gardaí he observed Collins standing in a threatening manner, raising his fist. Collins also told the man he was a boxer.
Collins punched the security guard in the face. The victim fell to the ground and Collins attempted to punch him again, but the victim managed to block the blow. Other security guards then arrived to offer assistance.
Safety suffered injuries in that incident, including a swollen right eye and thumb damage. No victim impact statement was submitted to the court.
The investigating guard agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, that his client had mistakenly believed that the security guard was standing near his partner. CCTV footage recovered by gardaí during their investigation showed this belief to be incorrect.
Collins maintained his version of events when questioned, but the garda in charge of the investigation said he had been pleasant in his dealings with the gardaí. The garda also admitted that Collins threw three punches and only two related to the victim.
Mr Le Vert told Judge Nolan his client wanted to apologize and had brought €500 to court as an expression of remorse. Mr Le Vert said Collins, who has also played football and the GAA, is aware his training as a boxer could have led to a “more serious” situation.
Mr Le Vert said Collins was a father of two children and there were family difficulties at the time of the offence. Collins was also suffering from depression at the time and worked as a security guard, but is now employed as a coach driver.
Mr. Le Vert noted that the probation report indicated that Collins was at low risk of re-offending. Collins has six convictions for traffic violations, all of which occurred after the date of this incident.
Judge Nolan said the defendant struck the victim once and made two further attempts to strike her, resulting in injuries. He noted the defendant’s guilty plea, remorse, and cooperation with gardaí among the mitigating factors.
He also ordered that the €500 be offered to the victim or donated to charity. Judge Nolan told Collins he could “consider this your first and last chance.”
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