A man tried to strangle his partner with her own T-shirt, punched and kicked her and jabbed a large kitchen knife into her side and told her he would dig a hole to put her in and that she would never see her family again.
The victim believed that 37-year-old Gavin McCarthy was going to kill her in the apartment they shared in Blackrock, Cork. In the course of a catalogue of violence he spat into her face, tore hair from her head and punched her in the nose causing it to bleed.
Now he has been jailed for four years for assault causing harm to her, threatening to kill her and false imprisonment.
Judge Helen Boyle outlined the disturbing list of aggravating factors in the case. They included poking her into the side with a knife, slaps, digs, punches, tearing out of clumps of her hair.
“You threatened to bite her nose off. You said you had done it before in prison. You said you would dig a hole and she would never see her family again. You bombarded her with 284 text messages in five hours (after she went to bed with physical injuries),” Judge Helen Boyle said.
The judge noted from Detective Garda Sharon Sweeney’s evidence that Gavin McCarthy had a long history of violence against women with whom he had relationships resulting in various convictions including one of a very serious nature.
Judge Boyle said, “This was perpetrated on a lady you were in an intimate relationship with. I have read her victim impact statement. (It was not read publicly.) Understandably, this lady was petrified. She knew what you were capable of. She feared for her life. She knows she was lucky to come out of it alive. No doubt it had a very serious and sustained emotional impact on this lady.”
When first questioned by gardaí, Gavin McCarthy said he was acting in self-defence and that the victim had bitten his finger.
Ms Behan BL said, “Mr McCarthy asked me to convey how deeply and utterly sorry he is for this. He asked me to express his shame and regret for the injuries and the effect this had on (the victim).
“On the night he was heavily intoxicated. A verbal altercation took place between the parties after he texted an ex-girlfriend and it set off an argument that developed and descended into chaotic violence. I am not trying to excuse it.
“He has an issue with alcohol and drugs. He has issues with his temper and his behaviour – he has never received any assistance for that.
“He wants to face up to what he has done – man up to it and get on with the rest of his life. He is 39 and at a point in life where one asks if there is anything to salvage in the future. He has become involved with the prison choir.”
Det. Garda Sharon Sweeney said the false imprisonment, assault and death threat charges related to a 24-hour period from the afternoon of Monday, November 15 to the afternoon of the following day.
The detective met the complainant after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16.
“She was in a distressed state. She had severe bruising around her head, neck and face and all over her body. She said she was kept in an apartment for 24 hours. She alleged that during it he assaulted her in various locations in the flat and that he placed a chair against the door in an effort to stop her leaving.
“He went out to collect his social welfare at 4.30 p.m. He pushed her into the face as he left and said, ‘you are nothing but a fool.’ It was only then that she felt safe to leave,” Det. Sgt. Sweeney said.
In the period the detective was with the young woman that afternoon she received 14 phone calls from the accused in 26-minutes before she turned her settings to flight mode.
“He tried to strangle her with her own black T-shirt. He punched her repeatedly in to the face, causing her nose to bleed. She was covered in blood. She alleged he threatened to kill her on numerous occasions during and after the attack.
“Gardaí had to use force to get in. He barricaded himself with a table.
“284 texts were sent to her in the 24-hour period. These included threatening texts (sent when they were both in the apartment),” Det. Garda Sweeney said.
When first charged, Gavin McCarthy applied for bail but the detective objected to this, on the basis of concerns for the woman’s safety. The detective said, “I cannot overstate my concerns about the danger to the life and safety of the injured party.
The complainant did not give evidence at the sentencing hearing but did say earlier, saying, “I am in fear of him. I am afraid he will catch me again. He is always angry, always giving out about things, he is never happy. He is always hitting me and hitting me.”
She said she went into a bedroom for part of the time and he was in another room sending texts. Det. Garda Sweeney said most of the texts came from the defendant and many were threatening.
The case dates back to November 16, 2021. When the complainant first appeared in court as a witness against McCarthy’s bail application she was visibly, heavily bruised to her face.