Irish medical student's moving victim impact statement after being 'burnt to the bone' in nightclub prank

Irish medical student's moving victim impact statement after being 'burnt to the bone' in nightclub prank

AN IRISH medicine student who was “burnt to the bone” by a law graduate at Halloween three years ago has read out a heartfelt statement at his attacker’s sentencing.

Matthew Sheridan, 24, from Cabinteely in Co. Dublin was on a night out celebrating the end of his exams in October 2012. He was in his second year of medicine at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG).

As part of the fun, Matthew and his friends dressed up for Halloween and Matthew dressed up as a sheep.

It was in a Galway nightclub where Brian Keane, 23, from Thurles in Tipperary, set the homemade costume – which consisted of glue and cotton wool – on fire with a lighter.

He was left with 75 per cent burns on his body. Read his victim impact statement here:

“I was taunted by the knowledge that he was leading a healthy life while I was suffering. I was the victim of a faceless, nameless person I did not know.

“I was missing 70 per cent of my skin and I underwent extensive emergency surgeries. Metal rods were put though my fingers. The pain and anguish of not being able to do ordinary things was unbearable. This attack was unprovoked and sinister and incredibly malevolent.

“I was tortured because he wanted me to be so. He changed my life forever.

“He literally burnt me to the bone.

“My fingers burned off. Why could he not just have hit me or kicked me or broken a glass over my head or shot me or stabbed me - anything but fire.

“You snuck up behind me in a dark room and then left me to burn to death.

“I thought I was dying. I begged for the pain to end. The stench of burning flesh overpowered me. I thought I might be blinded. The paramedics wrapped me in cling film and I begged them for pain relief and to put me to sleep.

“I was out celebrating finishing my exams. I had plans, but you found me. Who are you to jeopardise my plans? But my plans to be a paediatric surgeon have been put in jeopardy by you,” Mr Sheridan said to his attacker.

"You immediately turned and walked away that night and you have been doing it ever since. Where were you when I got my medical bills from France?

“You took my health, my peace of mind, my job, my hobbies, my fitness. You stole them all from me.

“Who are you to inflict such misery just because I was an easy target? I have persistent nightmares. You have caused me more pain that you can imagine. It was not an accident. It was done deliberately to me. It was an opportunistic assault.”

After the attack, Matthew was put in an induced coma and spent months recovering in hospital in Ireland and in France, where he underwent gruelling skin grafts.

His hands have been left permanently disfigured, from attempting to pull the flaming costume from his body.

He had to leave his studies at NUIG but has since returned - and is now in his fourth year.

Keane, with an address at Grange, Templemore Road, Thurles, said at the sentencing in Galway Circuit Criminal Court that the incident was a prank gone wrong.

After expressing his remorse for his “impulsive, momentary loss of control”, Keane was sentenced to five years in prison.

Following further submissions from his defence, the judge suspended the final 18 months of the five-year sentence for 18 months.