By Eimear Dodd
A Dublin man assaulted his former partner while she was holding their toddler in her arms during a “reprehensible” attack at her home, a court has heard.
The 30-year-old man, who can’t be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm and burglary at an address in Dublin on June 3, 2020.
The court heard that the man struck and punched his victim during this incident, which lasted for several hours.
After hearing the evidence on Monday, July 3, Judge Martina Baxter said the court finds this type of offending “reprehensible” and placed the man in custody until last Friday.
Mark Murphy BL, defending, told the courtthat his client has had a “significant wake-up call” and accepts that he behaved in a “disgraceful way” on the night in question.
Judge Baxter noted that the man has not come to garda attention since this incident but added that the court has concerns about his attitude to women and intimate partners. She adjourned the case to October 27, remanding the man on bail, and directed the preparation of a probation report.
Judge Baxter said the man would have a number of months to “put his money where his mouth is” and show a “change in his attitude towards current or former partners and women”.
A local garda told prosecuting counsel that the victim heard knocking at her front door at 2.30 am on the night in question and saw her ex-partner outside.
He was shouting and drinking vodka. She asked him to be quiet as their then-two-year-old son was asleep, but he went into the child’s room and woke him.
The toddler started to cry, and the woman tried to calm him. During this time, the man barricaded them in the sitting room, screamed at her then hit her in the face.
She asked the man to stop, and he got upset. She texted his mother to ask her to collect him but received no response. When she attempted to leave the sitting room with the child, the man would pull her back. He also started to rip at her clothes.
The man then got a knife and screwdriver from the kitchen, held the knife to his neck and started to stab himself. The man broke the TV which the boy was watching.
During the incident, the man also stamped on her face while she was on the ground. When he removed his foot from her face, the man asked the boy to give him a kiss.
The court heard the victim asked the man to leave and said they would talk tomorrow. At this point, she had given her phone to their son to keep him distracted. The man grabbed the phone and smashed it.
He then punched the woman in the face using his two hands, and during this time, he also punched the boy. The man said, “You made me do this” to the victim, who was asking him to stop.
She was later able to leave the house with her son and contact gardai. She sustained swelling to the left side of her face and bruising to her face and arms, according to a medical report submitted to the court.
Gardai observed extensive damage to the property when they arrived at the scene.
The man was arrested and denied the assault when interviewed. He suggested to gardai that the victim was violent and had assaulted him during an argument but said he did not wish to make a complaint.
He initially denied damaging the windows, but later accepted that he smashed them and the TV, but denied ripping her clothes.
The man has one previous conviction from 2020 for a public order offence, for which he was fined €300.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said she remains worried and fearful for herself and her children. She said her son is on the autistic spectrum and has been diagnosed with PTSD since this incident.
The garda confirmed the woman has moved due to fears for her safety.
The garda agreed with defence counsel that the man pleaded guilty on the trial date, but this was indicated in advance. It was further agreed that the man was deemed unfit for interview for six hours following his arrest due to his level of intoxication.
When asked by counsel, the garda said he was not aware if the man and the woman had had a “stormy” relationship.
He accepted the defence counsel’s suggestion that the man is from a “decent family who aren’t known in any negative way by the gardai”. His mother was in court to support him.
Defence counsel told the court that his client was extremely intoxicated on the night and his behaviour was “out of character” and “unacceptable”.
He acknowledged that his client’s plea was on the trial date but said discussions had taken place in advance. The man has two children and maintains contact with them.
A letter from his client was handed to the court along with confirmation of an offer of work. A sum of €2,000 had also been brought to court; however, the victim did not wish to receive this.
At the earlier sentence hearing, Judge Baxter noted that the defendant’s mother was in court and appeared “appalled hearing on record what [her son] did to another human being, the mother of his children, while his child was in her arms”.
Mr Murphy said there are “decent people” who support his client but do not condone his actions. He noted that his client made some admissions to gardai.
Judge Baxter said that some of the admissions made by the man included “character assassination” of his ex-partner. She also expressed concerns that the man’s letter to the court used the pronoun ‘she’ to refer to the victim, but this was scratched out and the injured party’s name inserted.
Defence counsel said his client regrets that he was not more forthright during his interview and accepts the severity of the position he finds himself in.
Judge Baxter said the court finds this type of offending “reprehensible” and noted that the victim was “vulnerable”, and made attempts to calm the situation, and the child present is now seeing a psychologist.
She said it is an aggravating feature that the man and the woman were in an intimate relationship at the time of the offence.
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