Sonya McLean and Eimear Dodd
A man who threw his 12-year-old son against a metal bed frame when the boy tried to stop him attacking his pregnant mother has been handed a prison sentence of two years and four months.
The 32-year-old man, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of his son, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting his partner causing her harm and to assaulting his son at their family home in Dublin on November 29th, 2020. He has no previous convictions.
The court heard that the children of the house called the gardaí to alert them that their father was assaulting their mother. When officers arrived, they found a young infant lying in her cot crying. Her babygro was covered in her mother’s blood and the woman was lying in an unconscious state nearby.
Imposing sentence on Monday, Judge Melanie Greally said these assaults had taken place in the family home, which is “supposed to be a place of safety”.
She noted that the children had witnessed their mother being violently assaulted and that the boy was assaulted when he tried to intervene.
Judge Greally handed the man a sentence of 40 months, with the final 12 months suspended on strict conditions including that the man place himself under the supervision of the Probation Service for two years post-release. Judge Greally backdated the sentence to December 2nd, 2021, when the man entered custody.
A local garda told Aideen Collard BL, prosecuting that she was directed to an upstairs bedroom by a 15-year-old girl, the oldest child in the house, when gardaí arrived.
When the officer walked into the room, the man was kneeling over the woman, with his hands just below her neck near her collar bone. She demanded that he move away from the woman and he did so.
She then went to the baby in the cot and confirmed that she was unharmed. The woman was five months pregnant at the time and drifting in and out of consciousness. There were pools of blood on the floor and she was bleeding heavily from her head.
The garda said the three other children, an 11-year-old, a 12-year-old and the 15-year-old girl, were huddled together in a distressed state in another bedroom.
I tried to save my mam
The 12-year-old boy had bruising to his shoulders and a cut on his face. He told gardaí that he had woken up to his parents fighting. “I tried to save my mam,” he said, but his father dragged him out of the room and threw him against a metal bed frame. The boy then got upset and started crying.
The woman later told gardaí that the man hit her hard in the head and she was afraid he was going to kill her in front of the baby.
“I saw hate in his eyes. I thought I was going to die. I was trying to stay awake because I was afraid I was going to lose the baby,” the woman said referring to the fact that she was pregnant with her fifth child.
The man was taken into custody that night. The woman was brought to hospital and the four children taken into State care. The children were returned to their mother when she was released from hospital the following day.
Judge Melanie Greally acknowledged that the man’s partner had not prepared a victim impact statement, but said it was evident that the woman had sustained a head injury and lost consciousness during the assault.
She said the aggravating factors include the intimate relationship between the man and the female victim and the level of violence involved. Judge Greally said the assault on the boy was less violent, however, she noted his age and the relationship between the boy and the defendant.
Judge Greally took into consideration the man’s guilty plea, expressions of remorse, difficult family background and willingness to engage with support services. She noted that his absence is creating difficulties for his family.
Judge Greally noted the references submitted on the man’s behalf by neighbours and family, a probation report and a psychological report. Judge Greally said the man is doing well in custody and this demonstrates that he is capable of rehabilitating him when he deals with his alcohol dependency.