A disabled athlete with no arms who stabbed his own father with scissors held between his toes has been spared from jail.
Rory O’Connor, 23, slashed out at his dad’s stomach with the scissor blade clenched between the toes of his right foot at their Cardiff home.
A court heard O’Connor was a ‘remarkable young man’ who learned to use his feet for everyday tasks after being born with no arms.
But O’Connor – who played in able-bodied football teams and swam in international competitions for Wales – started carrying the blade for his own protection after being threatened on a country walk.
He slashed out with the weapon between his toes in a row with his dad Kevin over carrying the weapon.
His father needed major surgery after O’Connor wounded him in the foot attack.
But he walked free after dad Mr O’Connor told a judge said his main concern was his son’s wellbeing – and stressing the attack would not stop him supporting his disabled son.
Matthew Roberts, prosecuting, said O’Connor was born with no arms as well as a number of other medical conditions.
The court heard he was able to carry out a ‘range of activities with his feet, such as washing himself’.
But his parents were ‘concerned and frustrated’ about him carrying the weapon and a confrontation blew up with his worried dad.
Mr Roberts said the father picked up a metre-long tube from a vacuum clear and prodded his son in the chest. O’Connor then ‘struck out’ with his foot, slashing his father in the abdomen with the scissor blade.
Mr O’Connors needed ‘serious medical intervention, including surgery, to treat the perforation wound’.
O’Connors, of Whitchurch, Cardiff, admitted wounding on the basis his actions were reckless rather than intentional.
Dad Mr O’Connor said his ‘greatest concern’ was for his son’s wellbeing and safety.
He described it as ‘regrettable’ but said they had given him a greater insight into the difficulties his son was experiencing and said they would not stop him supporting and helping him.
The dad said he did not want the assault in November to be the ‘defining negative moment of his son’s life as he has so much more to offer’.
Andrew Davies, defending, said O’Connor had been born with no arms and a number of medical issues but had overcome his ‘desperately sad start to life’.
He said O’Connor had gone to mainstream school – where he achieved 12 GCSEs – and played football and swam competitively through Disability Sport Wales.
Mr Davies said: ‘His family described him as a brave and intelligent young man.’
But the barrister said O’Connor had developed depression in his late teens because of problems at home.
He said O’Connor was ‘devastated’ about the injuries he had inflicted on his father and said the Probation Service concluded O’Connor was ‘a young man who cannot be judged by normal standards’.
The barrister said O’Connor would welcome the chance to do unpaid work as part of any community-based sentence as it would enable him to gain some independence and meet new people.
Judge Philip Harris-Jenkins said O’Connor was a ‘remarkable young man’ who had ‘risen above’ his significant disabilities.
The judge noted his behaviour had changed following the incident where he was threatened while out walking – an episode which seemed to have increased his sense of vulnerability.
He said the defendant was very lucky his father, though seriously injured, had not been even more badly hurt.
Judge Phillip Harris-Jenkins said: ‘The combination of your depression, friction at home and an incident outside led to you making the unwise decision to adapt a scissor blade and place that between your toes.
‘With that placed between your toes you raised your feet towards your father and struck him.
‘That blow caused a serious injury to his abdomen.
‘It was very lucky that injury was not far greater and cost your father his life – that is the risk people who carry blades take.’
The judge said taking into account everything he had read and heard about the defendant – and the fact he had been in custody on remand since November – that he was able to step back from the sentencing guidelines to impose a community order.
He sentenced O’Connor to a 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work and a rehabilitation course.