A Croatian man who stalked a young woman in Cork for days before carrying out a serious attack and threatening to kill her has returned to the Court of Appeal to challenge against an aspect of his sentence that requires him to leave Ireland 48 hours after his release from jail.
The woman was terrified of him and moved house twice in Cork as a result of his actions, not least his threat that even if it took him ten years he would carry out the death threat, Detective Sergeant Niall O’Connell said at the sentencing.
Judge James McCourt said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court: “This was premeditated. He stalked her for a number of days at Christmas and again over a long number of days in January.”
Judge McCourt imposed a four-year jail term on Josef Stanic, 26, who is from Croatia and was living at McSwiney Villas, Gurranabraher.
The judge suspended the last year of the four-year jail term on condition that the accused would leave Ireland within 48 hours of completing his time in prison.
Defence barrister Nikki O’Sullivan said at the original sentencing hearing his family had moved to Germany and he would go to live with them as soon as he was released.
Now at the Court of Appeal, she said there were logistical difficulties with the requirement for Stanic to be out of Ireland within 48 hours.
Ms O’Sullivan BL said the accused had no money, his passport had expired and he would need time to organise leaving the country.
Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said she the Court of Appeal had decided to leave the sentence exactly as it was, save for the requirement to leave the country within 48 hours of release from jail. This was relaxed to a period of 14 days instead.
Josef Stanic pleaded guilty to counts including assault causing harm to Tanja Kosnika at Cathedral Road on Monday, January 7, and threatening to kill her.
Det. Sgt. O’Connell said one of the main worries the victim hsd was the death threat which was made to her by the accused. He said to her: “I will kill you now or I will kill you in ten years time.”
The defendant also pleaded guilty assaulting the same young woman and producing a knife during that assault on December 7, 2018, at McSwiney Villas.
The injured party said it upset her to know that the defendant was claiming they were in a relationship but she said this was never the case. She said they were not in a relationship at any time but were friends and were both from Croatia.
They were both living and working in Cork for approximately two years and shared a house with others at McSwiney villas where the first assault occurred.
“He assaulted her and grabbed hold of her neck. He pushed her against a countertop and grabbed her around neck. He took off his T-shirt during this assault and also grabbed a knife,” Det. Garda O’Connell said.
Stanic was the one who phoned the gardaí. When they arrived, Stanic said he had taken heroin and repeatedly said he wanted to kill himself.
He was arrested under the Mental Health Act and taken Mercy University Hospital for assessment. He was released from the hospital later that night.
The young woman who was assaulted made a statement of complaint a few days later and also left that house and moved to a new address in Cork. She was shocked to see him outside her new house at Christmas.
And she said in her victim impact statement that the worst day of her life was January 7 this year when she walked home to that house and he was waiting outside. He punched her in the face and attacked her when she was on the ground, repeatedly punching and kicking her.
She believed that she was going to be killed and would have been but for the intervention of passers-by.
Det. Sgt. O’Connell said the young woman was seriously assaulted on that occasion and had to be taken from the scene by ambulance to Mercy University Hospital.
It was after that assault that he made the death threat.
She was too afraid to see him again so she did not attend court for his case but wanted the detective to read her victim impact statement. She said that even when Stanic became addicted to heroin she tried to help him out in dealing with his problems.
“I believed I was going to die. The bruising was gone after three weeks but the fear has not left me… When I heard he was released on bail I had to move house again.
“I was friends with Josef Stanic. I am upset and angry that he says he and I had a physical relationship. We 100 per cent did not,” she said.
As for his apology, she said he apologised to her on December 7 and again at Christmas yet he assaulted her viciously in January.
She expressed the fear that she would have to leave her job and her home in Cork whenever he was released from prison.
As for his friendship with the injured party Ms O’Sullivan, defence barrister, said: “He may have misread the situation.
He may have wanted a greater attachment. He fell in with a crowd and became addicted to heroin and there was a change in personality. He has never behaved like this in his life. He cannot explain it.”
Ms O’Sullivan BL said at the Court of Appeal that the accused had significantly reduced the amount of his maintenance dose of Methadone to get off heroin.