A man who raped his ex-partner after threatening to cut her fingers off with a garden secateurs has been jailed for 10 years.
At the man's sentence hearing at the Central Criminal Court earlier this year, the Cork woman described how she had stayed in a toxic relationship for 18 years for the sake of her children, whom she loves dearly.
The couple separated in 2019, but were still living together and on the evening August 2nd, 2019, the woman had come home from work when the man showed her the secateurs, grabbed her hand and told her that he would cut her fingers off if she didn't do what he said.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the woman's anonymity, had a crazy look in his eyes and told the woman he was mad enough to cut off her fingers, the court heard.
He ordered her into the bedroom and raped her. He then raped her again and only stopped when one of their children arrived home and began shouting to be let in.
The court heard that during the whole incident the woman was crying and hyperventilating.
The man was convicted last July after a trial at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork of two counts of rape, two of oral rape, two of sexual assault and two threats to kill or cause serious harm.
The court heard that after the attack, the woman fled her home and spent a few weeks sleeping in hotels and with friends before finding rental accommodation.
She did not go to gardaí because of how it might affect her children and during that time she said she was afraid to be on the streets.
She felt safe for the first time when she found the rented accommodation but a few days after moving in, the man smashed his way into the back of the property and came “charging” towards her with what the woman thought was a knife.
The knife was a modified nail file. The man told her he had paid a man €10,000 and that he would get her if anything happened to him and he went to prison.
He told her this man had a picture of her and knew where she lived and worked and said: “I paid someone 10k to get rid of you if anything happens, and I went to prison”.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt on Monday said the case was very tragic for all concerned and noted the very damaging effects of the offending on the woman.
He said the accused seemed to suffer from “toxic masculinity”.
Outlining the background circumstances of the case, the judge noted that no one likes being rejected, but that decision has to be accepted, and it cannot be met with sexual or any other kind of violence.
Taking into account the fact that more than one offence was committed during the first event against a background of threat, as well as taking place in a location the victim should have felt safe, the judge said the court's view was that the offending lay at the junction of the higher and ordinary level. He set a headline sentence of 10 years for the rape offence.
He said the only real mitigation in relation to the first offending was that he was a man of previous good character at the time. He took his guilty plea into account in relation to the intimidation charge.
Mr Justice Hunt imposed concurrent sentences totalling nine years in relation to the first series of offences and a consecutive sentence of three years with the final two years suspended in relation to the interference with a witness charges.
He ordered that the man should have no contact with the woman without her consent.
During the sentence hearing earlier this year, the court heard the woman’s victim impact statement in which she said she was in shock and believed his threats and said: “It gave me chills to think I had been watched in my home”.
She said she was terrified of the man because she felt he was capable of anything and she had to close her business of 18 years.
She said she used to be a confident, outgoing woman, but now she still has nightmares of the man cutting her fingers off.
She said she was quite surprised when the man pleaded guilty on July 14th last to the charges relating to the second attack, as it was the first time he admitted anything.
The man pleaded guilty to interfering with a witness in a criminal investigation, trespass, assault causing harm, criminal damage and making a threat to kill.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.