Stephen O’Donnell is a fine young man from a good family and yet he somehow assaulted his girlfriend, a fellow student in the Limerick School of Art and Design, when she found him with a former girlfriend.
Well, what’s a guy to do? He lost his temper, as you do, but let’s be reasonable. It’s true that he held the girl against her will. It’s true that he punched her, kicked her, spat at her, choked her to the point where she came close to losing consciousness and threatened to kill her, but still, he’s a young man of good character, from a good family.
It’s true that he ripped off the girl’s leggings, exposed himself and made sexual remarks as he was assaulting her.
It’s true that, as a result of his assault, the victim was, and remains utterly traumatised, but young Stephen is a decent boy and he comes from a very good background, which is the main thing in these matters.
As his defence counsel explained to the court, it was one of those terrible situations that came about as a result of too much alcohol, which , as we all know, is always a mitigating factor in a crime.
I’m sorry for driving so fast, Judge, but you see, I was completely drunk.
Oh, that’s all right then. Why didn’t you say so sooner? Case struck out.
What were the consequences for his victim? I don’t know, but I can only imagine that the poor girl was unable to complete her studies to the standard she might have expected and will therefore have to suffer the academic consequences. I’m sure she’s emotionally traumatised. What reasonable human being would not be?
Despite finding O’Donnell’s behaviour completely unacceptable and describing what he did as a very nasty type of crime, Judge Carroll Moran decided that the appropriate punishment should be a two-year suspended sentence on all charges. In imposing the sentence, Judge Moran took into account O’Donnell’s co-operation with the Gardaí, his guilty plea, his indication of remorse and his good character.
History does not record what Judge Moran thought of the consequences for his victim, but I think it’s fair enough to call anyone who beats a woman a coward and a thug.
What do you think?
Despite all the evidence, I continue to cling to the belief that people are born decent. This lad changed, somewhere along the way. I don’t know where and I don’t know when, but it seems to me that in the course of his young life, he must have encountered somebody who thought that beating a woman was acceptable. Clearly, the message sank in.
The question is, has he learned anything from his suspended sentence? Does he now understand that it’s wrong to beat another person, and especially somebody who isn’t able to hit you back?
On the face of it, given the information available, I’d have little confidence that he understands this, and I would be inclined to give this boy a wide berth, just to be on the safe side. After all, the lad has a record of violence, and he is a convicted criminal.
19th May 2014
— Hi Bocque,
My name is Steve O’Donnell. I’m not sure if you know me but you wrote an article about me last year on your website:
I’m writing to you to ask if at all possible could you please remove the article? I am appealing to all of the other sites that wrote articles to do the same.
I made a horrible mistake 4 years ago and have paid for it ever since, in both my personal and professional life. I am not trying to make what I did go away because I understand the nature of it and how wrong I was, i’m simply trying to move on with my life, better myself as a person and leave it in the past. I often meet people who I thought were friends of mine only to discover that they have heard through gossiping what I had done and some of them have read articles online also. I’ve had to lose a lot of people around me and going through that on a regular basis is soul destroying. I’ve been working hard to better myself as a person since the incident and am absolutely certain that my actions on that day will never be repeated as long as I live.
I hope that you can see it in your heart to accept my request as it would mean a huge amount to me and would hopefully not effect the popularity of your site too much as it is quite an old article.
— I’ve shared your request with my friends, especially those who would be familiar with the background. After I hear what they advise, I’ll consider it further.
— Thanks for your reply. I’m a little unclear as to why you have taken those actions, is there a number of people who contribute to the decision making for your website?
— I often ask my friends for their opinions before taking action. Do you find that unusual?
— No not at all. Sorry, was just a little unclear. Maybe you can let me know either way with what decision you make. Thanks.
— While we’re waiting for them all to reply, and there have been a few replies, I have to ask you something.
— You beat a girl senseless, isn’t that true?
— Absolutely not.
— You didn’t?
— Do you have any more questions?
— Did you beat a girl?
— I’m not sure what your aim is here, if you wish to have a discussion about this I have no problem obliging, would you like to take my number?
— I’m replying to your correspondence. You did ask me to remove an article and I need to establish the details.
— Not to sound in any way rude towards you but I feel like you are trying to antagonise me slightly and i’d rather not discuss this with you, a complete stranger. I find it already extremely difficult to discuss it with people who are close to me but if do feel like you need certain questioned answered before even considering removing the article then I have no problem having a conversation over the phone with you.
— Stephen, you contacted me, let me remind you. And you are a convicted criminal, after all.
— I’m not sure of the point you’re trying to make?
— Stephen I’m not trying to make any point. You contacted me. You asked me to remove a report of what you did to your victim and I don’t know why I should.
— What did your friends advise?
— You wouldn’t like to know what my friends think of you, especially my daughter who is roughly the same age as your victim. Stephen, I’ve decided to add this entire conversation to the original article.
— Why is that?
— Well, I suppose your complete lack of empathy for your victim is a start. Your narcissistic self-pity might be another reason. Both of those reasons.
Elsewhere on Bock: Anthony Lyons