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Naval Service officer still serving despite guilty plea in violent attack on former girlfriend

David O’Gorman was involved in a serious assault in Limerick in 2020

Judge Tom O’Donnell suspended the sentence last autumn after the Naval Service officer agreed to make a significant payment to the victim. Photograph: Stephen Barnes

A Naval Service officer is still a member of the Defence Forces almost one year after he pleaded guilty to a violent attack on a former girlfriend that left one of her eyes permanently displaced.

The disclosure follows weekend protests over the leniency of a soldier’s suspended sentence, in a separate case heard by the same judge last week, for beating a woman unconscious. The Army has initiated disciplinary proceedings for Cathal Crotty that could lead to his removal from the military.

However, the disclosure that Naval Petty Officer David O’Gorman is still serving long after his guilty plea last summer for a serious assault on a woman he knew has raised fresh questions about the response of the Defence Forces to such cases.

“The Chief of Staff is preparing a report at the request of An Tánaiste,” the Defence Forces said in reply to questions about O’Gorman’s conviction. Tánaiste Micheál Martin is Minister for Defence.


O’Gorman of Drumgoole, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, pleaded guilty last summer to assault causing harm at a Limerick address in May 2020.

He was described in a court as an accomplished heavyweight boxer on the Naval Service boxing team. The court heard how he punched the victim with both hands to the head at least five to 10 times, leaving her terrified and bleeding from the right eye.

Judge Tom O’Donnell suspended O’Gorman’s sentence last autumn after the Naval officer agreed to make a significant payment to the victim and she agreed to accept it.

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In a victim impact statement read to the court, the woman described how she feared she would die during the attack and was still afraid to smile because it made her eye look out of sync.

Several months after the conclusion of criminal proceedings against O’Gorman over the drunken attack, he remains a serving member of the Naval Service.

“Once due process has been completed in a civilian court of law, it is then a matter for the relevant Defence Forces authorities in accordance with military regulations,” the Defence Forces said.

“In the case you refer to, an administrative process is ongoing and the Naval Service has engaged with the court service in that regard.

“For this reason, it would be inappropriate to make further comment on this matter at this time.”

O’Gorman and the woman, who was in her 30s, were in an on-off relationship from 2013 up to the time of the offence.

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They had not seen each other since an argument in February 2020 but went to a barbecue together in late May after he initiated contact by sending a text message. He became “very drunk” at the barbecue and assaulted the woman after they returned to her home.

The court heard how an argument about walking the dog culminated in an attack that left the victim with a fractured eye socket and bruising to her face and body. She required reconstruction surgery and was left with a scar and her eye in a changed position.

Asked about O’Gorman continuing membership of the Naval Service, the Defence Forces said they “have been clear that there is no place for any form of gender-based violence, abuse or any form or inappropriate behaviour” by members when they on or off duty.

“The Defence Forces unequivocally condemns any actions by serving personnel that are contrary to military regulations or that do not reflect our values,” the forces said.

“Any conviction in a civilian court has implications for the retention and service of members of the Defence Forces, as stipulated in military regulations.”

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times