A man who attacked his then partner after returning home from a wedding has received a fully suspended sentence.
Graham Shields (34) “lunged” at his then partner and punched her in the face causing “significant injury”. The assault marked the end of their relationship and had “an extremely profound psychological effect on the injured party”.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Shields, who has been diagnosed with an anti-social personality disorder, is now on “cordial terms” with his ex-partner and contributes to the financial well-being of their son.
Shields of Greenhills Court, Greenhills Road, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm at Mulvey Park, Dundrum, on July 1st, 2018. He has no previous convictions.
Passing sentence today, Judge Melanie Greally said Shields and his then partner had passed the day attending a wedding and the celebrations involved quite an amount of alcohol.
Judge Greally said Shields had previously been diagnosed with an anti-social personality disorder and was experiencing elevated levels of anxiety. The couple returned home and became involved in a “verbal exchange”.
She said this culminated in Shields “lunging” at the victim and hitting her in the face with his fist, causing “significant injury” around her eye.
The court heard that while there was no fracture, there was “considerable swelling” and the bruising took approximately three weeks to heal. The victim also experienced blurred vision and underwent weekly counselling for a period of two years following the assault.
Fled to neighour’s house
The court heard that the victim fled to a neighbour’s house and gardaí were contacted. When interviewed by gardaí following his arrest, Shields said he did not recall assaulting the victim, but said if the victim said he had done it “she wouldn’t lie”.
Judge Greally said this marked the end of the relationship between Shields and the victim, who was in fear of the accused and changed the locks in her house.
Judge Greally said the Probation Service recommended that the accused was someone who would benefit from a period of supervision.
She noted that he has been engaging with mental health services since the offence.
She said she was of the view in this case that the context of the assault and the accused’s history and mental health situation is such that the case comes “within a very narrow band of exceptional cases where an immediate custodial sentence is not necessitated”.
Judge Greally said that while there was a previous occasion in 2015 of “a warning sign” where Shields “shoved” the victim and caused her to fall, the offence “does not appear to be part of an ongoing domestic violence situation”.
She said the offence was aggravated by happening in the context of a long relationship and constituted a significant breach of trust, it caused an “embarrassing and unsightly injury” and had “an extremely profound psychological effect on the injured party”.
Judge Greally said she gave him credit for his guilty plea, his lack of previous convictions, his admissions and his expression of remorse.
She said she took into account his own mental health history and his childhood traumas.
She said Shields has made no “inappropriate contact” with the victim and that they are on “cordial terms”. She said they are co-parenting their son and the accused is contributing to his financial well-being.
Judge Greally sentenced Shields to 18 months imprisonment, but suspended the entirety of the sentence on strict conditions including that he follow all directions of the Probation Service for 18 months.