DPP lodges appeal over Irish soldier assault sentence

Natasha O'Brien
Natasha O’Brien, who was viciously assaulted by Irish Defence Forces soldier Cathal Crotty (22) [PA]

Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has lodged an appeal against the three-year suspended sentence given to an Irish soldier for assaulting a woman in a random attack.

The appeal, on the basis that the fully suspended sentence handed down was unduly lenient, was lodged on Friday, Irish broadcaster RTÉ reported.

Cathal Crotty, 22, punched 24-year-old Natasha O'Brien on O'Connell Street in Limerick six times, after she asked him to stop shouting homophobic abuse.

He later boasted about the incident on social media.

Ms O'Brien, whose injuries included a broken nose, criticised the Irish justice system after Crotty avoided prison last month.

Speaking outside court following sentencing, Ms O'Brien said: "It's not justice."

'Cowardly, vicious, unprovoked'

Crotty had initially tried to blame Ms O’Brien for instigating the attack on 29 May 2022.

He later admitted his guilt after being shown CCTV footage of the incident and then pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court.

When sentencing, the judge described it as a "cowardly, vicious, unprovoked" assault, but said the defendant "must be given credit" for his guilty plea and told the court he had "no doubt" that if Crotty was jailed his army "career is over".

Judge Tom O’Donnell, who is now retired, imposed a three-year prison sentence, which he suspended in its entirety, and ordered Crotty to pay €3,000 (£2,550) compensation to Ms O’Brien without prejudice to any potential civil court proceedings.

The sentence led to protests in support of the victim in four different Irish cities.

Ms O'Brien also attended the Dáil (Irish Parliament) when politicians discussed the case. At one point TDs (members of the Irish Parliament) rose to give her a standing ovation.

The DPP appeal will be heard in the Court of Appeal.

It could take up to a year for it to come before the court unless an application is made to have it heard sooner.