Jury fail to reach verdict in trial of man accused of assaulting girlfriend

by Gazette Reporter
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A jury has failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a man accused of imprisoning his then girlfriend and subjecting her to an assault which lasted “at least an hour and a half”.

Lloyd Saunders (32) with an address at Seven Oaks, Swords Road, Dublin 9, had pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm, false imprisonment and making a threat to kill or cause serious harm at Rathvilly Park, Finglas, on December 17, 2016.

The court heard that this is the first criminal trial to take place in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court since March of this year.

On the third day of the trial, the jury of five women and seven men said they could not reach a verdict upon which at least ten of them agreed.

Judge Martin Nolan thanked the jury for their service “particularly in light of the Covid situation” and said that the system cannot work without them.

Judge Nolan remanded Mr Saunders on continuing bail and adjourned the matter to October 6, next.

During the trial, Kelly Evans said she was in a relationship with Mr Saunders at the time of the alleged incident. She said that on the date in December 2016, she had arranged to meet him at his then address in Finglas at 12:30AM.

Ms Evans said Mr Saunders arrived an hour late, was “very angry” when they went into his bedroom and had drink taken. She said he asked her to leave, but she said no as she was cold after waiting for an hour in her car outside his house.

She said Mr Saunders hit her in the face with his open hand three or four times. She said she stood up to leave and he said that she was not going anywhere after slamming the bedroom door.

Ms Evans said he continued to slap her and began strangling her while she tried to fight and scream. She said at one stage he went to get a tissue to clean her face and said if she moved from the bed “he would fucking kill me”.

She said that when he returned he propped her up and asked if she was “ready for round two” before being subjected to a further assault. She said the assault went on for “at least an hour and a half” and came to an end when he let her leave the house.

Ms Evans rejected submission by defence counsel that she had told his client that she had been in a fight with a woman earlier that day, that the woman had slashed her tyre and that she arrived to his house already injured.

Ms Evans denied that she pushed a locker against Mr Saunders bedroom door when he suggested she go home. She denied the submission of counsel that she told Mr Saunders she was going to blame him for her injuries as she was leaving the house.

In his closing speech to the jury, Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, said Ms Evans had given evidence of what he would describe as a “sustained, horrific and degrading assault”.

Mr McCormack noted that Mr Saunders told gardaí the injuries he claimed Ms Evans had when she arrived to his home “did not look that bad”.

He said that if Mr Saunders had said that when she arrived to his home her face “was beaten to a pulp” then that might hold some water, but Mr Saunders did not say anything like that and that “blows his explanation to gardaí out of the water”.

In his closing speech to the jury, Michael P O’Higgins SC, defending, said that bruising can occur subsequent to injuries and that there can be late onset of bruising.

Mr O’Higgins said it was “wholly unexplained” by the prosecution how Ms Evans’ car tyre was punctured.

He said this was important because his client had given an explanation that he had been told by Ms Evans the tyre was punctured by a woman who had assaulted her prior to her arriving at his address.

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