The Defence Forces have begun the process of dismissing soldier Cathal Crotty, who was handed a fully suspended sentence after carrying out a vicious attack on a woman and boasting about it online. 

Crotty, 22, from County Clare, was handed a three-year suspended sentence at Limerick Criminal Court on Friday after pleading guilty to assault. He was also ordered to pay €3,000 in compensation to his victim Natasha O'Brien, who was beaten unconscious during the attack on May 29, 2022. 

Judge Tom O'Donnell described Crotty's actions as "utterly appalling". 

"He (Crotty) took pride in striking a defenseless female in what was a cowardly, vicious, unprovoked, and totally unnecessary assault," Judge O'Donnell told the Limerick Criminal Court. 

Tánaiste and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin described the assault as a "shocking attack" that was "violent and vicious". 

"I want to condemn unequivocally the shocking attack on Natasha O'Brien. It was a violent and vicious attack which was unprovoked and I want to commend the bravery, courage, and indeed the dignity of Natasha O'Brien in the face of such an assault and the manner in which she has conducted herself," Martin told reporters in Cork. 

"I am conscious that the judicial process may not yet be complete. I cannot comment any further because of course, it could prejudice any further deliberations at that level." 

In a statement, the Defence Forces commended the bravery of Natasha O'Brien and wished her a full recovery from her injuries. 

"The Defence Forces unequivocally condemn any actions by serving personnel that are contrary to or do not reflect our values," the Defence Forces said in a statement. 

Defence Forces authorities are now dealing with the case, the statement confirmed. 

"Any conviction in a civilian court may have implications for the retention and service of members of the Defence Forces, as stipulated in Defence Forces Regulations.

"Once due process has been completed in a civilian court of law it becomes a matter for the relevant Defence Forces authorities, in accordance with Defence Forces Regulations.

"We can confirm that these proceedings have commenced and as such, it would be inappropriate to comment further on this specific case." 

The Journal reports that proceedings to dismiss Crotty from the Defence Forces have begun, which will involve the military’s internal courts and martial legal system. 

Crotty grabbed O'Brien's hair and punched her to the ground as she was walking home from a bar shift with a friend. 

The court heard that Crotty, who did not know O'Brien, continued holding her hair in one hand and punching her in the face with the other until she lost consciousness. 

Crotty initially claimed that O'Brien had been confrontational and punched him in the face first but later accepted that this account was "all wrong". 

The full three-year sentence will be imposed if Crotty reoffends within the next three years. 

O'Brien told the court that she faced persistent concussion symptoms for months after the attack and said she was deemed "high risk" of a brain bleed. 

She said she suffered from PTSD and constantly worried that she would die from her injuries.