A Jehovah's Witness, Michael Leech, 74, who was badly beaten by two teenagers, told the judge, in a display of Christian virtue, not to jail his attackers.
The Irish Independent reports Michael Leech, a grandfather, who, in the vicious attack, lost a teeth, had a broken nose, lacerations in the face and black eyes, said it was his fault he was beaten by the teenagers. Michael Leech had confronted the two young men, Charlie Murphy, now 22, and Mark Murphy, now 21, while they threw bangers on cars in Athea, during Halloween night, 2008. Michael Leech said to the judge,
"If I hadn't gone over and grabbed him by the shirt and said: 'What the blooming hell do you think you're blasting well doing' — it wouldn't have happened, would it? I didn't fight back. I just held my hand up and tried to protect myself. I remember being pulled backwards — it was all over very quickly. I had a couple of teeth knocked out — a few kicks here and there. I don't remember them saying anything."
Michael Leech, an English pensioner from Athea, Co Limerick, in an interview with Irish Independent, explained why he asked Judge Carroll Moran not to jail the boys,
"I'm a Jehovah's Witness and we study the Bible to understand it. It says in the Bible — love your enemy...People can't understand[this] because they don't understand the Bible. Well, I understand it. Therefore that is why I said I didn't want them to go to jail."
Michael Leech, who says he now suffers memory loss, said his wife, Kit, died a year later, partly from the shock she suffered because of the attack. Police had a difficult time investigating the case because the parents of over 60 youths who witnessed the attack would not allow their children talk to the police.
Judge Carroll Moran, at the Limerick Circuit Criminal Court, on Thursday, gave the two young men, after their victim pleaded on their behalf, a suspended sentence of two years. According to the Irish Times, the judge, handing down judgment on Mark Murphy, of Lisselton, Co Kerry, and Charlie Murphy, of Hillside Drive, Athea, Co Limerick, said:
“Michael Leech was badly beaten by a group of youths including Charlie Murphy and Mark Murphy. Garda Griffin and his team are to be commended, particularly in the circumstances they found themselves in. They faced a stone wall from many present on the night in question and who refused to give gardaí any help.”
Jehovah's Witnesses have expressed their approval, and pride at Michael Leech's forgiving spirit. A website for Jehovah's Witnesses carried the news with the question: Would you have done the same?