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21st Jun 2024

‘What Cathal Crotty did to Natasha O’Brien is inexcusable’

Kat O'Connor

Natasha O’Brien thought she was going to die when he attacked her

There has been major uproar after soldier Cathal Crotty walked free after brutally attacking Natasha O’Brien in Limerick in May 2022.

Crotty boasted about the attack which left Ms. O’Brien unconscious, with a broken nose, bruising, and severe mental distress.

In a world where women’s safety is taken seriously, we would see Crotty put in jail, but we live in Ireland so the judge barely gave him a slap on the wrist.

What Cathal Crotty did to Natasha O’Brien is inexcusable. It doesn’t matter if he has a pristine reputation, an incredible career, or the backing of his peers. He physically beat a woman up to the point that she lost consciousness. Not only did he cause immense harm to Natasha O’Brien, but he also bragged about it, as if she was worth nothing as if it was a sport and he won the game.

Crotty could be the type of person who rescues abandoned puppies, helps the elderly, and donates all his salary to charity, but good deeds and being a ‘polite’ person do not equate to a get-out-of-jail-free card.

“The violence paints a different picture”

He viciously attacked a woman. He left her to suffer and then bragged about it as if what he did was something to be proud of. There’s nothing polite about that.

The soldier may be professional, and his peers may think he’s a hard worker, but he is still the person who laughed as he described how many times he punched Natasha O’Brien before she passed out.

As Women’s Aid perfectly said: “Cathal Crotty, the perpetrator of brutal violence was described as ‘polite’ and ‘professional’ in court. Yet the violence, lying to attempt to blame Natasha, and the bragging on social media paints a different picture. The circle doesn’t square.”

Natasha O’Brien will be forced to live through that trauma forever

We can’t even begin to fully understand how Natasha O’Brien is feeling after this week’s sentencing. The insult, the hurt, the betrayal she is enduring after Judge O’Donnell allowed Crotty to saunter out of court with next to no consequences.

He made excuses about his career and praised him for eventually pleading guilty. Judge O’Donnell acknowledged that Crotty’s actions were “utterly appalling” but actions speak louder than words. He let a violent 22-year-old man continue on with his life with little to no consequence.

By giving him an entirely suspended sentence, he let Crotty traipse out of that courtroom as if all he did was steal a bar of chocolate in his local shop.

He didn’t put the victim first, he didn’t prioritise women’s safety and failed to recognise that the only future he should’ve cared about was Natasha O’Brien’s.

“A custodial sentence would end his career. It is a hard judgment call to make. The accused was completely out of order. He has come to court and acknowledged his wrongdoing.”

We stand in full solidarity with Natasha O’Brien.