A BUSINESSMAN who confessed to gardaí that he tried to murder his wife intimidated her much later with the phone threat that the gardaí would not be there to protect her whenever he got out of jail.
A sentence of six years, with the last year suspended, was imposed by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin on 53-year-old Michael Quirke of Manor Hills, Rathcormac, Co Cork, after he pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Mary Quirke, two counts of threatening to kill her and one of harassment.
A consecutive sentence of three years was imposed but suspended from when he is released from prison on a later charge of intimidation of a witness.
That intimidation took the form of a phone call in which he said:“Even if I do go to jail, when I get back out, even if that is in two years, I will be the same man when I get back out and you will have to deal with it then.
“The guards will not be around you when you need them most. When I get out of jail, be it two years, I will be the same. You won’t have that protection that you have now. You have 24-hour round the clock garda armed response and they won’t be there when you need them the most.”
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: “This is a somewhat bizarre case. Initially, the report came from the aggressor. He set out truthfully the acts he had committed against his wife – very serious acts, threats to kill, attempts to kill almost and the methodology was frightening.
“The type of behaviour — ropes and nooses — was very alarming. It is little if any comfort that he was under treatment at the time and thereafter. There a serious long-term diagnosed bipolar disorder pre-dating this, compounded by stress and things happening this man when young. Otherwise he is a man of considerable endeavour, his attempts at economic success were acknowledged by the family.
“All contact between the parties has to cease. There cannot be contact physical or any other way. He is not to have any contact with the victim or any member of the family at any stage in the future.”
Siobhán Lankford, senior counsel, said the accused was dealing with his psychiatric issues and had been in marriage counselling with his wife as recently as August 2020 — after the dates in respect of all of the charges, with the exception of the intimidating phone call last December. She said the accused had real remorse and had “developed insight over the past while”.
Detective Garda David Barry said: “Mary Quirke is his ex-wife. They are divorced since 2013. They lived in the same residence to 2020.
“He presented himself in January 2019 and said, ‘I attempted to murder Mary Quirke’.
“He said [it happened] on two occasions. In the bedroom at their home he put a trouser belt around her neck and lifted her off the chair for three seconds. He said it was his intention to kill Mary Quirke on this date.
“They (adult children) heard a loud scream. They were prevented from entering the room.
“At the end of January 2019 he held her against the wall. He said, ‘I did threaten her that I had a rope in the shed and I would hang her. If my hands came out (they were in his pockets) I would have killed her.’”
He also put a GPS tracker on his wife’s car.
Mary Quirke said: “I would be hopeful and indeed anxious that my former husband would receive all the necessary medical assistance. I wish Michael Quirke all the best with his future and I hope he seeks professional help going forward as things cannot continue like this, as someday in the future, matters will go too far and someone in the family will get hurt or worse.
“I would hope that the court would keep Michael Quirke’s medical condition and progress under regular review. Both I and my children are mentally scarred as a result of these incidents.
“I don’t believe that Michael Quirke understands the consequences of his previous actions. I am very concerned that if he is released from custody, similar — probably more serious incidents — will occur.
“I believe that my former husband should be excluded from the townland of Lisnagar as he previously was in accordance with his bail until the court believes that the physical risk to me and my three children no longer exists.”