‘No justice’ say family as killer gets five years

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Waterford musician, Damien O'Brien, who died following the assault in 2018.

THE man who killed musician Damien O’Brien was on bail at the time, facing charges relating to another assault.

Craig McGrath (26) of Rathfaddan Park, Waterford city, was jailed for five years last week for the manslaughter of the talented young musician.

no justice in this country

Some members of Mr O’Brien’s family walked out of the courtroom when they heard the sentence, describing it as “a disgrace” and saying there is “no justice in this country”.

Mr O’Brien (28) suffered a broken eye socket, broken nose and broken jaw as a result of punches, Waterford Circuit Criminal Court was told. He was fatally injured when he hit his head off the ground.

The court heard that Damien, had played a gig in Waterford with his band Chimpanbee and was on his way home with his girlfriend Catherine Smith. At about 2.50am they met a man she knew, who was with Craig McGrath. When McGrath passed them later he “made a derogatory comment” to Catherine.

Mr O’Brien told him to leave Catherine alone. “A couple of seconds later this fella [McGrath] punched Damian in the face twice,” Ms Smith told gardaí at the time.

“I remember him falling to the ground and there was a thud as he hit his head on the ground. He [McGrath] hit him in a very aggressive way.”

Mr O’Brien’s sister Sandra wept as she read a victim impact statement on behalf of his family. She asked Judge Eugene O’Kelly to impose “a strict sentence” on McGrath, who she said had been released on bail after his arrest while her brother lay in hospital.

“The image of Damien lying there fighting for his life will never leave us,” she said.

The court heard that in the previous August, McGrath was involved in an incident at a Waterford nightclub. He head-butted a man after attempting to grab his phone and punched him outside the club. McGrath was charged with assault and granted bail in the district court.

Judge Eugene O’Kelly imposed a five-year prison sentence for the manslaughter and a consecutive two and a half years for the assault, suspending two years of the latter sentence, leaving a total sentence of five and a half years.

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