A Laois man who beat up his partner after she commiserated via text message with an ex-boyfriend over the loss of a family member has been sentenced to three and a half years' imprisonment.
The 47-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to assaulting the woman causing her harm at his home in August 2018.
He was convicted by a jury of false imprisonment of the woman on the same occasion during a trial earlier this year. He has a number of previous convictions, including for assault.
Passing sentence on Thursday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the victim was subjected to terror and intimidation.
Mr Justice McDermott said the man's actions were intimidating and demeaning as the court heard he had repeatedly slapped her. He said the violence was calculated to instil fear and a sense of isolation.
He suspended the final year of a sentence of four and a half years on condition the man engage with assessment for alcohol treatment and that he keep away from the victim including through social media.
A local garda told Gerard Clark SC, prosecuting, that the accused and complainant had been in an on/off relationship for a number of years and had gone back to his house that night after socialising.
The accused man had become agitated at about half past midnight after seeing a text message on the woman’s phone in which she commiserated with a former boyfriend on the death of his mother.
The garda agreed this was the “catalyst” for the offences and the accused choked the woman, punched her while she was both standing up and lying down, and slapped her nose with an open hand causing her to bleed profusely.
The court heard he had slapped the woman about the ears repeatedly and later claimed to gardaí that she had beaten her own ears. Neighbours gave evidence of hearing noise and shouting at about 5am or 6am in the morning. The woman said she was unable to leave the house until 10am.
The woman left the house, setting off on foot to walk 25km home, and was found on the side of the road by a “good Samaritan”. Gardaí were alerted and they attended at the accused man’s home. He was not there but later made contact with them.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said she had been in a lot of physical and emotional pain after the events and was unable to sleep due to pain and fear. She outlined how she suffers panic attacks, was on antidepressants and attending counselling.
She said the physical pain had healed but the emotional pain remained.
The garda agreed with Michael Bowman SC, defending, that the man had acknowledged he assaulted the woman. She agreed the man had a persistent history of employment.
Mr Bowman handed in a number of testimonials and letters on the man’s behalf.
Counsel asked the court to take into account his client’s guilty plea on the assault charge. He said it was a “deeply unpleasant incident” and his client wishes to apologise.
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 email@example.com) or Men’s Aid Ireland (confidential helpline at 01 554 3811, email firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.