A barman had a quarter of his skull surgically removed to allow his brain to swell – to minimise brain damage – after he was assaulted while trying to protect a young woman on the street.
Wesley Wilders told Galway Circuit Criminal Court he had a great job in Busker Browne’s, had a lovely girlfriend, was about to choose which college course to do, and was looking forward to celebrating his 25th birthday when his whole life was suddenly turned upside down by an unprovoked, one-punch assault.
He said he could not forgive Sultan Sarumi (19), who had ruined his life and left him with life-threatening injuries.
Sarumi, with addresses in Gleann Rua, Ballybane, and Harold’s Cross, Dublin, pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Wilders, causing him harm, at Bohermore on October 7 last year.
Sergeant Noel Sweeney said the accused fled the scene after the assault and did everything he could to evade Gardai on the night.
Mr Wilders hit his head on the ground following the punch and lost consciousness at the scene.
Witnesses said the accused punched him after he came to the aid of a girl who had been confronted by a group of teens.
“After seeing the victim lying on the ground, he (Sarumi) fled the scene without any regard for the man, who suffered serious life- threatening injuries,” Sergeant Sweeney said.
Gardai had to launch an extensive search on the night to locate the culprit. Sgt Sweeney said that following his arrest, Sarumi showed no remorse and tried to blame the victim.
The sergeant said Mr Wilders suffered a fracture to his skull and had spent six weeks in Beaumont Hospital before being transferred to Sligo General Hospital.
He said the victim had a large section of his skull removed to allow his brain to swell in the immediate aftermath and a titanium plate was fitted to seal the area this September.
A medical report handed into court, stated Mr Wilders had a large visible scar across his skull as a result of the operation. His speech is now sometimes slurred and his gait unsteady due to right-side weakness in his body.
Sgt Sweeney said Sarumi was well-known to Gardai in Galway over the years and he had seven previous convictions for drug dealing, criminal damage, robberies, and one for another serious assault for which he received a three-month prison term last April.
Defence barrister, Garry McDonald said Sarumi had come to Ireland from Nigeria when he was nine years old and was estranged from his family. He said his client had expressed remorse during his final Garda interview.
Mr Wilders, who is a native of Strandhill, Sligo, read his own victim impact statement into evidence.
He became emotional on several occasions in the witness box.
“All I was trying to do was help a lady. I ended up in ICU fighting for my life and was in a coma for two weeks. I couldn’t talk or move or recognise anyone. I went down to seven-and-a-half stone.
“I’m afraid all the time now. My mother had to give up her job to mind me. I broke up with my girlfriend. I cannot work anymore. I’m so afraid to go outside the house. All my past memories are gone.
“I don’t know if I will ever recover because my right side is so weak. I don’t know if I will ever get back to the way I was before,” he sobbed.
Addressing the accused, he said: “I really hope you do not hurt anyone else like you have hurt me. You will never realise the suffering you have put me through. How can I forgive?” he said.
Mr Wilders explained he now lived in a constant state of fear, even while in his own home.
Judge Rory McCabe said the offence carried a maximum five-year sentence and given Sarumi’s extensive range of previous convictions, some of which involved violence, the headline sentence in this case, he said, was five years.
The judge noted from a prison governor’s report, that Sarumi had been in an altercation with other prisoners while awaiting sentence and his involvement with the probation service had been superficial.
The early plea of guilty, he said, was a mitigating factor because it had spared the victim the trauma of having to give evidence at a trial.
Noting Sarumi was deemed by the probation service to be at a moderately high risk of reoffending, Judge McCabe said the appropriate sentence was three years and six months with the final six months suspended for 12 months.
€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms
Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.
The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.
A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.
Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.
Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.
The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.
“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.
“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”
Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.
“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.
The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools
Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.
“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.
“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.
A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.