Claire Henry and Declan Brennan
A man who subjected his former partner to a barrage of degrading assaults in a three-week period which culminated in him raping her has been sentenced to 12 years with six months suspended.
The Central Criminal Court heard that the accused, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his ex-partner, pleaded guilty in October 2021 to 32 counts of assault causing harm which included kicking her to the body, dragging her by the hair, putting her head down a toilet, hitting her with an iPad and smashing her head off a whiteboard.
Following a trial, the 50-year-old man was convicted by a jury in November 2021 of 15 more counts of assault causing harm, which included urinating and pouring bleach on the victim and punching her. He was convicted of two counts of rape and a single count of making a threat to kill or cause serious harm by threatening to brand her with an iron.
He had pleaded not guilty to these offences. The assault offences all took places on various dates in Dublin between August 15th and September 5th, 2016, the day he raped her.
The court heard that in August 2016, the man became jealous after seeing photos of the woman on a work night out with male colleagues and he began calling her a slut and a whore. She described how every day for the next three weeks he punched her, kicked her and dragged her by the hair around the house.
Passing sentence on Monday, Mr Justice Michael McGrath said that the rape offences took place against a background of extreme domestic violence. He said the sheer volume of the assault offences spoke to the terror and great violence of the situation and noted there was a level of depravity in the offending.
He said the woman had undoubtedly suffered great harm. He said the rapes fell into the more serious category of rape offences and set a headline sentence of 14 years.
He reduced this to 12 years to take into consideration the lack of relevant previous convictions. He said there was a limited level of remorse expressed and this only came after putting the victim through a significant trial.
Reading from her own victim impact statement, the woman previously told the court that she was petrified when she finally left the family home with her children to go to a women’s refuge.
She said she feared the man would find her and kill her.
The woman said that she was in the “mindset that it was all her fault” and that “the children were scared and neither child wanted to be apart from me even to just go to the toilet”. When the children would spend time with their father, he would tell them that he “forgives her and that he wants me back”.
Hugh Hartnett, SC, defending, said his client spent three weeks in a psychiatric hospital and handed in medical reports. He said his client was found to be depressed and to have issues with alcohol but there were no findings of psychosis.
He said the accused was “not a bad man and he was leading a blameless life but, due to alcoholism, behaved in the ways outlined to the court”. He also said his client attempted to get help as he knew things were going wrong, but this did not work out.
The accused has not had a single visitor since going into custody as he has lost all of his family, said counsel. He said his client feels shame and regrets his actions, and he is now estranged from his children whom he loves, which is a huge punishment for any man.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact Women’s Aid (24-hour freephone helpline at 1800 341 900, email [email protected]) or Men’s Aid Ireland (confidential helpline at 01 554 3811, email [email protected]) for support and information.
Safe Ireland also outlines a number of local services and helplines at safeireland.ie/get-help/where-to-find-help/. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.