A man has been found guilty of recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm on Kerryman Timothy McCarthy in Canberra, an attack which left the 41-year-old fighting for his life in hospital.
Daniel Byrne, 21, was found guilty in the ACT Supreme Court on November 27 and will be sentenced in February.
After the incident, in July 2011, Mr McCarthy was left with bruising, swelling and blood clots on his brain and two skull fractures.
He was treated in the intensive care unit of the Canberra Hospital and a neurosurgeon told the court there was no doubt he would have died without medical attention.
The Canberra Times reported that Chief Justice Helen Murrell dismissed Byrne’s argument that he was defending himself when he knocked out the Kerryman with one punch.
The punch caused Mr McCarthy, who is in his early 40s and from Killarney, to fall back and hit his head on the concrete.
The incident happened outside the Quick ‘n Go convenience store on Northbourne Avenue at about 5.30am on July 24, 2011.
CCTV footage showed Byrne taking a step back before swiftly punching Mr McCarthy who was left lying on the ground unconscious. Byrne then walked away from the scene.
Byrne was arrested the following day hiding out in his garage in Franklin. He was charged with recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm but denied the allegations as he said he thought Mr McCarthy was about to punch him.
Byrne said that he was standing with a group when Mr McCarthy approached them and started giving some of them hugs. Mr McCarthy had never met any of the men before and it was reported that he was intoxicated.
Mr McCarthy was giving a prolonged hug when Byrne said he tapped him twice in a bid to get him to stop.
However, Byrne said the Irishman became aggressive and said he was better than him because he was Irish. He claimed Mr McCarthy told him that he wanted to fight.
Byrne’s barrister Anthony Hopkins said that the punch was proportionate to deal with the threat that Mr McCarthy posed.
During cross-examination Crown prosecutor Shane Drumgold suggested that Byrne viewed Mr McCarthy as a “soft target”.
The judge found that all of Byrne’s evidence was unreliable and said that he could not have believed it was necessary to punch Mr McCarthy to defend himself.
She found that the punch was “intentionally powerful” and that in delivering it Byrne knew that it would cause serious injury. And she said that the punch was not an instinctive reaction as Byrne had time to reflect on what he was about to do.
After the incident Mr McCarthy underwent surgery at the hospital, which involved removing a piece of his skull to relieve the pressure.
He was placed in an induced coma and doctors reattached the piece of his skull about two weeks after surgery.
He was then discharged into the care of his mother and sister and is believed to have since returned to Ireland. It is understood that no members of the family were in the court.
CCTV courtesy of Canberra Times