Mid-lecture assault leaves two students hospitalised

Originally published in Volume IV, Issue 7 on 21st January 1998 by Observer Reporters. Two final year Engineering students received serious facial injuries when they were assaulted by a fellow student during a morning lecture at the start of term. The students, Stephen Foley and Stephen Collins, each received blows to the head from a male student sitting in the front row of the ten o’clock Electrical Engineering lecture. It is thought that the incident was sparked by the assaulter’s annoyance at classmates in the second row having their feet resting on chairs adjacent to his. Classmates say that minutes before the incident, the individual had warned one of the victims to move his leg from the chair next to him “...or I’ll fucking kill you.” Immediately prior to the incident, the knee of another student sitting behind the assaulter slipped and made contact with him. Witnesses say the student responded rapidly by throwing a punch each to the heads of the two classmates sitting directly behind him. According to the witness, “Stephen Collins got his front tooth broken and his nose was pumping blood. The other guy got a swollen jaw.” The individual apparently picked up this pen and prepared to continue taking notes, pausing to apologise to the lecturer, Mr Brian Mulkeen, saying “I’m sorry I had to do that.” Witnesses say that a visibly shocked Mr. Mulkeen responded, “I don’t want that happening in my lecture. I think you’d better leave."At this stage the two injured students had left the lecture to seek medical attention. According to reports, they were brought to nearby St. Vincent’s Hospital. The individual agreed to leave Mr. Mulkeen’s lecture, but returned to the theatre after it had finished. At about eleven o’clock, Prof. John Scanlon, Head of the Electrical Engineering Department, approached the aggressor. It is believed the man was escorted to the ground floor office of the Dean of Engineering. It is thought that attempts to discuss the matter with the student were unsuccessful, and they ended when the man left the meeting prematurely. An announcement, which was intended to reassure the class of their safety, was made at the next lecture and students were asked to report the individual to the college authorities, if he was seen in the building. It is not thought that the injured students suffered any long-term physical harm and both returned to college without delay. Speaking to the University Observer, the lecturer Mr. Mulkeen said “let’s put it this way: I don’t think there are any angry students out there.”Although he said he could not rule out the possibility that those involved would take legal action against the individual, it is thought unlikely that any such course will be taken. Some have suggested, however, that a private settlement for any medical costs might be a possibility. Although the man appears to be barred from the university for the meantime, it is hoped that he will return to finish his degree when conditions are deemed appropriate by the College.