Limerick man diagnosed with ‘Small Man Syndrome’ after starting pub fight

A Novel and unique defence was put forward in Limerick District Court last Friday.

Thomas (Shorty) McCarthy (32) of 22 O Brien’s Park on the Southside of the city stood accused of starting a fight outside a city-centre pub last February.

The Defendant pleaded guilty to engaging in a fracas with four bouncers outside Riddle’s Bar O’Connell Street.

Legal-Aid solicitor for the defendant, Gillian Carroll told Presiding Judge Donal Lowry that while her client wished to plead guilty there were mitigating circumstances that needed to be considered prior to sentencing.

Psychiatric Report

Judge Lowry was handed a copy of a psychiatric report prepared on the defendant by the Health Board.

“You will see from the report,” she told the judge that my client has been diagnosed with an acute case of Small-Man syndrome.

“My client — who stands at five-foot-nothing — has always been vertically challenged and as such has always been the subject of ridicule by his peers.

“This has left him with the classic symptoms of Small Man Syndrome.”

Evolutionary Psychology

The solicitor explained to the court that Small-Man or Napoleon Complex is a theorised inferiority complex normally attributed to people of short stature. It is characterised by overly-aggressive or domineering social behaviour.

Evolutionary psychology hypothesis argues that in competitive situations when males receive cues that they are physically out-competed the Napoleon complex psychology kicks in.

Physically weaker males at times adopt alternative behavioural strategies to level the playing field, including showing indirect and direct aggression.


“My Client,” Carroll continued, “was out socialising with friends on that night. They were, in fact, celebrating his successful completion of a JobSearch enrolment form.”

The Judge was told that the defendant had in total failed to hold down fourteen jobs over the preceding two years.

“He took the successful filling out of the form as a tremendous achievement and may have had too much to drink.”

Lost the Plot

When refused entry to the pub, I’m afraid my client ‘lost the plot’ and attacked the four bouncers.

He also admits to disturbing the peace, throwing a bottle at the pub door and urinating in a garda patrol car.

However, I would ask the court to be cognisant of his underlying condition and to show leniency when sentencing.”

Judge Lowry addressed the court and after asking the defendant to put away the flagon of cider from which he was swigging sentenced McCarthy to a twelve-month suspended prison sentence.

McCarthy was also bound to the peace for two years and warned to be of good behaviour.

Judge Lowry additionally advised McCarthy to move to Cork where Small-Man syndrome is more prevalent, understood and socially accepted.