Man who assaulted and harassed partner with over 1,000 phone calls is jailed

The judge described videos showing the man's conduct towards his partner as 'disturbing, terrifying and frightening to watch'
Man who assaulted and harassed partner with over 1,000 phone calls is jailed

Peter Murtagh and Declan Brennan

A man who assaulted his partner, fracturing her eye socket and on one occasion threatening to set her on fire, has been given a four-year prison sentence.

The 35-year-old man told the woman, who may not be identified, that he hated her, that she was "smelly", a "tramp", and a "dirty rotten cow". He harassed her by telephone and via social media, calling her over 1,000 times to abuse her verbally and threaten her.

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to harassment on various occasions between December 8th and January 2021. He also pleaded guilty to threatening to kill or cause serious harm on December 12th, 2010, to making threats on December 16th, 2020 and to assaulting the woman causing her harm.

Judge Elma Sheahan described videos showing the man's conduct towards his partner as "disturbing, terrifying and frightening to watch”, saying that “the language used by the accused is vile and vicious”.

The man had "humiliated and degraded" the woman, the judge said. Her victim impact statement, "speaks of [her] mental torture and fear", Judge Sheahan added.

She also noted that the man had a "long history of offending and poor engagement with probation service".

Violent and jealous

The court heard that the man became violent and jealous of his partner when he thought she was seeing someone else.

After he hit her, fracturing her eye socket, she had not gone to the doctor out of embarrassment but a friend had taken photographs of her injuries.

The man got drunk and would become violent, the court heard. On one occasion, he "smashed up the place" and started roaring again at her. She left the house and, when she returned, he had flung cans around the house.

He told her he would stay off the drink and was "full of little promises", the victim told the court.

Almost all of the incidents took place in late 2020. The court heard that the man made 1,019 calls to his partner from multiple phones over a 23-day period. On one phone, he called her 278 times; on another 327 times; and on a third, 414 times.

He used Facebook to threaten her and her family, sometimes through an alias, Gerard Howe, which was in fact him. In Facebook messages, accompanied by emojis of hammers and an anvil he wrote: "I'll put you up on fire” and added “dancing on your brains, body pieces - put that in your pipe and smoke it..."

He also sent videos through Facebook in which he threatened to harm her and to burn down her house. These videos and recordings of phone calls were viewed by Judge Sheahan.

During one phone call he told the woman "You’re dirt, you’re vermin. You’ll burn in style." In another he said: "Give me back the children, you smelly rotten cow. I’ll burn you”.

Reoffending risk

Sentencing him on Friday, Judge Sheahan noted that the man's probation report assessed him as being at "a moderate to high risk of reoffending" and referred to his "unpredictability" with regard to violence.

Noting his "remorse" for his conduct and that he was currently drug free, the judge said he had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse. He had 52 previous convictions for a variety of offences, including assault, criminal damage and substance-related crimes.

She noted his wish to re-establish relations with his partner, and his children, on his release from prison.

She suspended the final year of a five-year prison term and banned him from contacting the victim.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact Women’s Aid (24-hour freephone helpline at 1800 341 900, email helpline@womensaid.ie) or Men’s Aid Ireland (confidential helpline at 01 554 3811, email hello@mensaid.ie) for support and information. 

Safe Ireland also outlines a number of local services and helplines at safeireland.ie/get-help/where-to-find-help/. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.

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