Friday, March 10, 2023

Claire Henry

A Dublin man has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison for an assault on his former partner and the mother of his children resulting in a fractured nose.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that on the night of April 1st, 2020, and into the early hours of the following morning, gardaí were dispatched to a home after a 13-year-old child called them.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his former partner and children, pleaded guilty in February 2023 to six charges which include assault causing harm, criminal damage by arson, violent behaviour in a garda station, breach of a protection order and two counts obstruction of a peace officer. He has 18 previous convictions.

Sentencing hearing

Passing sentence on Friday, Judge Elma Sheahan said, “the accused pleaded guilty on his trial date and that this violence took place at all is disgraceful, but the fact that this took place in the view of two young teenagers is outrageous”.

Judge Sheahan said, the aggravating factors, in this case, were that the offending took place in the home of the injured party and in front of her children. She would also take his previous convictions for criminal damage into account.

The judge also highlighted that the accused repeatedly spit at gardaí at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The judge said the mitigating factors in the case were his guilty plea, the difficulties he faced growing up, and his good work history. Judge Sheahan acknowledged the accused’s apology but said that “his outburst in court diluted this apology”.

Judge Sheahan sentenced the accused to four and a half years in prison and ordered that contact should only be made from the accused to the injured party through her solicitor for three years upon release unless otherwise agreed by the parties.

Garda David Woods told Monika Leech BL, prosecuting, that the incidents occurred in April 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The injured party had been in a relationship with the accused and had a barring order against him. The woman who was caring for her children became overwhelmed and asked the accused to come over and help her. He did so, and she went to bed for a rest.

Gda Woods said the woman woke at about 11.30pm, and the accused was drunk, and he threw a drink at her. She shouted at him, “why are you drinking with the kids around”. The man then grabbed her by the neck and struck her. He said, “I’m going to kill you and the kids. If I can’t have you, no one will”.

The court heard that the woman was beginning to lose consciousness, but the accused continued to punch her in the face and nose. The woman grabbed a bottle and hit the man with it. She then managed to scramble out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. The accused then kicked the back door and shattered the glass.

Gda Woods said the woman’s 15-year-old son came down the stairs and saw his mother being strangled. Her daughter then called the gardaí, who arrived and arrested the man. While in garda custody, the man became violent and abusive to gardaí while also spitting at them and shouting about Covid-19. The man was placed in a cell to stop him from the continued spitting at gardaí.

A short time later, the garda station fire alarm was activated, and smoke was seen coming from his cell. Gardaí rushed to the cell with fire extinguishers. The man had set his jumper on fire, and the cell mattress had also caught fire.

The man was moved to a different cell, and a lighter was recovered.

A medical report and images were handed into the court outlining the injuries the woman sustained during the assault, which included a displaced fracture to her nose and bruising to her eyes.

Victim impact statement

A victim impact statement was read to the court by the prosecuting counsel. In the statement, the woman said, “I was strangled, beaten, punched, kicked, slapped and told I was going to die and that he would smoother the kids”.

The statement also said, “I will never forget the look of shock on my children’s faces, he grabbed my son, pushed him, and I was scared he would hit him”.

The woman went on to thank the gardaí for their fast response and said, “If it wasn’t for the gardaí arriving, this would be a murder trial. The gardaí saved my life”. Towards the end of the victim impact statement, the accused verbally interrupted the court and was told by Judge Sheahan that if he interrupted the court again, he would be removed.

Gda Wood agreed with Deirdre Flannery BL, defending, that there was a barring order in place at the time, but the two were in a good place, and the woman had asked him to come over and help her with the children.

The garda agreed with counsel that the mattress in the garda station was set on fire and was quickly extinguished, and this was an act of self-harm. Ms Flannery also said that when her client was put in the second cell, he made two further attempts at self-harm.

Counsel said that on the night in question, alcohol had been taken, and an argument took place. She said her client accepts his behaviour was appalling and apologises.

She asked the court to take into account that her client is no longer in touch with his children and is only contacted by his father.

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 In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112. 

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