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19/09/2021

Derry student weeps outside court after he receives suspended jail sentence for assault which left victim with brain injury

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final year university student, who punched two men outside a city centre bar two years ago, causing one of them to fall face first to the ground and sustaining a brain injury, wept outside the Crown Court in Derry today after he was given a suspended jail sentence. Twenty years old Jack Bergin from Cypress Grove in the Steelstown area of the city, admitted attacking his two victims outside the Sugar Nightclub in Shipquay Street in the early hours of June 16, 2016. One of his victims sustained a cut lip and other minor abrasions, but his second victim sustained bleeding to his brain, a broken nose, lacerations to his forehead and nose as well as abrasions to his chin and to the tip of his nose. The victim who sustained the serious injuries was in court today when Bergin was sentenced for attacking him and his friend. The man, who did not wish to talk to the media, had previously told the court through a prosecution barrister that he didn't want Bergin to be sent to jail for inflicting the injuries on him. The victim, who still suffers from the effects of his brain injury, stated in his victim impact report - "It would be difficult for me having something like that on my conscience, in that I could personally set back someone's life and change it forever". Judge Elizabeth McCaffrey said the sentiments expressed by the more seriously injured victim were "an extremely generous approach given the content of his medical report" but she said there was no getting away from the fact that Bergin's actions two years ago were appalling. The court was told that Bergin, in an attempt to impose his machismo, punched his first victim once to the face when the victim had lifted Bergin's girlfriend and spun her around as they stood talking with a group of friends outside the nightclub. The second victim then moved in to separate Bergin from the man he'd just punched but Bergin then punched him several times to the head, causing him to collapse onto the road. Judge McCaffrey told Bergin he'd chased after his second victim before attacking him and then running away.. She told Bergin that the maximum sentence she could impose was one of seven years in jail for such an unprovoked attack. Judge McCaffrey said when Bergin was originally arraigned at the Crown Court on the charges last October he replied not guilty, but on the morning of his trial on June 5 of this year he pleaded guilty to committing the two offences. She said while a defendant deserved credit for pleading guilty, Bergin could have shortened the entire process by pleading guilty at an earlier date instead of forcing his two victims to wait two years for a potential trial. Judge McCaffrey said she took into consideration that Bergin was of previous good character and that no matters were pending against him. She also took into consideration that no weapons were involved in the incident nor did Bergin kick any of his victims. "You are a young man who has been offered many advantages in life but you will never realise your full potential if you not control yourself and control your temper", she told Bergin. "This was simply an appalling assault on two young men by you and your conduct on that night was nothing short of shameful", she added. Judge McCaffrey said she accepted that Bergin's apologies to his two victims and his expressions of remorse were genuine, even though after his arrest he made a no comment interview and still denied the charges after he was shown CCTV footage of his behaviour. Defence barrister Eoghan Devlin told the court that since the incident, Bergin expected to be sent to jail. "It was a snapshot of the worst period of behaviour in his life", Mr. Devlin said. The barrister said the odium attached to the offending would remain with Bergin for a long time. Judge McCaffrey then imposed a nineteen months jail sentence, which she said she would suspend for three years. Outside the courtroom Bergin broke down and wept as the victim who had sustained the injury to his brain walked past him.

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