A fundraising drive has been set up to assist a father of three who has been unable to work since he lost an eye and sustained severe burns in an unprovoked chemical attack.
John Paul Carey, 35, was jailed for nine-and-a-half years on Monday for what Judge James McCourt deemed as having been a “cowardly” assault on Francis Costello, 40, at his home in Ballyphehane in Cork.
The incident occurred on March 4, 2022, when Carey called to the home of Mr Costello in Connolly Park in Ballyphehane in the city. The men were known to each other because Carey, who was living in Knocknaheeny, had entered into a relationship with an ex-partner of Francis Costello.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard Carey threw a corrosive liquid, later identified as caustic soda, in the face of Mr Costello. When gardaí called to Carey after the attack he refused to engage with them. His only inquiry was if they had seen Francis Costello and “was he still a handsome man?”
Mr Costello lives with his two brothers and father. His elderly father was out of the house on the night of the offence.
Hearing screaming at the door, his brothers Roy and John ran out. They were also doused in the liquid and sustained chemical burns, with John losing 20% vision in one eye and 10% in the other.
Roy Costello has set up a GoFundMe page for his younger brother Francis. Roy said Francis, who previously worked at Woodies in Cork, went through “countless visits” to hospitals in Cork to try to save his left eye.
“He also travelled to Dublin on a number of occasions to meet with specialists in the hope of getting a prosthetic eye when all attempts to save his eye failed and it had to be removed.
“My brother initially spent 10 days in hospital where he underwent plastic surgery on his face and head. He was sent home on morphine and was basically helpless.
“It was another two weeks after he came home that the doctors took him off the morphine and reality set in.”
Roy said Francis had been left “physically, emotionally and mentally scarred” arising out of the incident.
“Francis still has a long road ahead of him. He has been told his eye socket is damaged so badly that a prosthetic eye might not be possible. He will be travelling to Dublin for operations in the hope that they can repair it enough so he can get his prosthetic eye and be somewhat happier with how he looks after the attack.
“With medical, travel and living expenses mounting up, friends and neighbours told me I should make this GoFundMe in the hope to help Francis get his health and life back. Any donation would be greatly appreciated.”
Meanwhile, Mr Costello delivered a victim impact statement in the court on Monday. Judge McCourt paid tribute to him for his bravery in reading out the statement in person following his “appalling” ordeal.
He said the evidence in the case had made for “harrowing” listening. He described as an aggravating factor in the case the decision by Carey to continue to assault Francis Costello “as he lay on the ground”. He said the attack was “cowardly and premeditated and planned”.
Speaking outside the court, Mr Costello said the pain he endured on the night of the attack had made him want to die.
“I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. If I had to relive that pain again I’d rather be killed instantly. It is inhumane what he [Carey] did. You wouldn’t do it to an animal.
“Today, reading out my victim impact statement is a breakthrough as I continue my rehabilitation as a disabled person.”
Mr Costello thanked gardaí, Support After Crime, medics, neighbours and friends for their assistance following the attack.
Donations can be made to the fund here.