A woman who carried out a “savage” attack on a new mother who had just returned home from visiting her premature baby in hospital has been jailed for nine months.
Miranda McCabe (37), of Tubberclare Meadows, Navan, Co Meath, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Stephanie Dunne at Priorswood Avenue, Blanchardstown, Dublin, on November 27th, 2021. She has five previous convictions.
Garda Mark Reilly told Diarmuid Collins, BL, prosecuting, that Ms Dunne had just travelled home after visiting her premature baby in the hospital. When she got out of her car, she noticed a car with a man and a woman sitting inside.
Gda Reilly said Ms Dunne was standing in her porch when McCabe jumped from the car and headbutted her. McCabe punched her several more times and put her in a headlock.
The court heard the man who had been in the car was now standing in Ms Dunne’s garden dressed in black, wearing gloves, and had his face covered with a scarf. He was also holding what Ms Dunne described as “butcher knives”.
Ms Dunne’s son opened the front door and as McCabe swung to hit Ms Dunne, she missed and instead hit the son. McCabe continued to hit Ms Dunne several more times before the man dragged her away.
As they were leaving, McCabe said: “This is only the start.” They both got into the car and drove away.
Gda Reilly said that when McCabe was arrested, she made no admissions during her interview. A clump of hair which Ms Dunne had pulled from McCabe was tested, and the DNA from the clump of hair matched McCabe.
Ms Dunne read her own victim impact statement to the court, stating: “I will always be on my guard… My daughter was in ICU, I didn’t know these people.”
Gda Reilly agreed with Patrick McCarthy, BL, defending, that the early guilty plea by his client was helpful to gardaí. McCabe’s co-accused remains before the courts.
Mr McCarthy said his client had suffered from mental health difficulties and was going through a difficult period at the time of the offence.
Counsel said his client is extremely embarrassed by her behaviour and wished to convey her apologies to Ms Dunne and the court. He said this was an isolated incident.
He asked the court to take into account that McCabe is a single mother to three children, one of whom has significant medical needs.
At an earlier sentence hearing, Judge Martin Nolan said McCabe was very aggressive and attacked the woman “savagely”.
“The motive for this savage attack is not clear,” the judge said, adding there appeared to be a “tenuous connection” between the injured partner and McCabe.
“It was a very bad attack on a lady in a very vulnerable position,” Judge Nolan said. The victim had been “grievously attacked and humiliated,” he added.
The judge noted McCabe has three children, one of whom has additional needs. He expressed concern for the future of this child if he was to imprison McCabe, “which is my instinct to do”.
On Wednesday, Judge Nolan said it has since become clear that McCabe is not the “principal carer” of her child who has special needs.
“I was led to believe this was the case. Nobody wants a child with particular needs to be left alone or vulnerable,” the judge continued.
He said given the fact this was a planned assault and a frightening situation for the victim, “I have come to the conclusion that she deserves a custodial sentence”.
Judge Nolan imposed a sentence of two years and suspended the final 15 months on strict conditions.