Irish soldier who beat woman unconscious dismissed from military after avoiding jail

The Irish Defence Forces have dismissed a soldier who was convicted of beating a woman on the street, but avoided a custodial sentence, sparking protests around Ireland.

As of midnight on Wednesday, 22-year-old Private Cathal Crotty is no longer employed by the Irish military, a spokesperson confirmed.

The defence forces had initiated disciplinary action against the private after his conviction, which took several weeks to complete.

Crotty was convicted last month of attacking 24-year-old Natasha O'Brien in Limerick in 2022, breaking her nose and leaving her unconscious on the street.

She had asked him to stop shouting homophobic slurs at passers-by. He later boasted of the attack to friends on Snapchat, telling them: "Two to put her down, two to put her out."

"As I lay in the foetal position, losing consciousness, he continued his relentless beating - my last conscious thought was, 'he's not stopping, I'm going to die'," Ms O'Brien told the court.

The judge in the case convicted Crotty but suspended his three-year sentence in full, saying there would be "no doubt" that a jail term would be the end of his military career.

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Ms O'Brien waived her anonymity to express her outrage at the sentence, and angry protests took place in several cities around Ireland, with thousands taking part in marches.

The director of public prosecutions (DPP) is now appealing the leniency of the sentence, although that appeal won't be heard for several months.

The defence forces later revealed 68 personnel currently have criminal convictions, or are before the courts, for a range of offences. Five of those are charged with rape or sexual assault.

Chief of staff Lieutenant General Sean Clancy has noted "the unacceptable presence of personnel with serious convictions, including gender-based violence, within the defence forces" and said that "such individuals have no place in our ranks".

"We owe it to the bravery of individuals like Natasha O'Brien, to those impacted within our own organisation and to the values we stand for to ensure that no one within the defence forces can avoid the consequences of their actions."