A judge has described domestic violence as cowardly and morally reprehensible before sentencing a man for an attack on his ex-partner in her home.
Ian Doyle (31) smacked an Xbox controller on the head of the woman, cutting her, and then choked her in order to stop her screaming from help. He was prosecuted despite the victim going to ground due to her stated fears.
Doyle, of Cashel Avenue, Crumlin, Dublin, was on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court accused of two charges of assault causing harm to Lisa Byrne. He had pleaded not guilty to both counts.
When the victim did not show up for the trial and could not be located by gardaí, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) agreed to accept guilty pleas to the less serious charge of assault, which has a maximum penalty of six months.
At the sentence hearing on Tuesday, Detective Garda Joanne Browne told Brian Storan BL, prosecuting, that Doyle was on bail at the time for other offences still before the courts, adding that part of his bail conditions was to stay away from Ms Byrne and the vicinity of her home.
On the morning of the offence, the woman heard a loud bang on her front door. She answered the door and Doyle was shouting at her, “gritting his teeth, clenching his fists and shouting, ‘who’s in the gaff’”.
The woman told gardaí that he looked “real evil”. She told him there was nobody there and she was not “with anybody else”, to which he said: “I know you weren’t, come on and we’ll have sex”.
The woman said no, but Doyle then picked up a controller for the Xbox games console and smacked her hard on the head. Blood began streaming from her head and she began screaming for help.
Doyle put her on a bed and was shouting at her “you’re going to get me arrested”. He put his hand over her mouth and told her to stop screaming.
She nodded that she would stop, but when he took his hand away she began screaming again. He then held his arm in a tightening grip on her neck in a choking motion, the court heard.
The woman later said she felt a lot of pressure on her throat and wanted to scream but was unable. She said she felt her eyes rolling in her head and was crying and begging him to leave.
The woman’s neighbour had heard the screaming and came to the flat and knocked on the door. Ms Byrne went to answer it. The neighbour pulled her out of the flat and sheltered her in her flat until gardaí arrived.
In the meantime, Doyle went to that flat and was calling for Ms Byrne and banging on the door and windows of the flat with a mental object.
The court heard Ms Byrne had ended the relationship a few months earlier because “of a few incidents”. She said she felt numb and scared after the assault, telling gardaí: “I’m afraid if he sees me again, he’ll kill me, I’m so scared.”
Doyle’s previous convictions include drug dealing offences, dangerous driving, and possession of articles with intent to cause injury. He was in custody on remand since the assaults in 2021.
Doyle was on bail for separate charges of making threats to kill and assault causing harm at the time and is awaiting trial on these matters, the court heard.
Judge Pauline Codd said the aggravating factors were the level of violence and the fact that he was in breach of a bail condition to stay away from the woman.
“Domestic violence is both morally reprehensible and cowardly. This was clearly a terrifying attack,” she said.
She noted that Doyle was able to escape with the help of his mother who “harboured and comforted him” after the assaults, and suggested that “perhaps” the photographs of the injuries should be seen by “parties in court”.She said Doyle throttled the woman in the second assault.
She imposed five-month sentences for each offence, to run consecutive to each other. The sentence was backdated by six months to give partial credit for time already served in custody.
Judge Codd suspended the final four months on condition that Doyle have no contact whatsoever with the victim or her neighbour and stay away from the vicinity of their homes.