18 Aug 2022

Man convicted of coercive control, intimidation and multiple assaults of former partner

Man convicted of coercive control, intimidation and multiple assaults of former partner

A jury has convicted a man of coercive control, intimidation and multiple assaults of his former partner, after the first trial under the 2018 Domestic Violence Act.

The 52-year-old Dublin man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty to one count of engaging in behaviour which was controlling or coercive of his partner at various locations, including their Dublin home, between January 1, 2019 and September 22, 2019.

He had also pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of assault causing harm to his partner, one count of assault, one count of endangerment and one count of intimidation on dates between May 2018 and January 2020.

On the twenty first day of the trial, the jury returned verdicts of guilty on the charges of coercive control, intimidation, assault and on 12 counts of assault causing harm.

The jury acquitted the man on one count of assault causing harm relating to an incident where it was alleged he had pushed his former partner down the stairs. The jury also acquitted him of a single count of endangerment which related to an allegation that he had pushed and lifted the woman towards the railings of a bridge, creating a substantial risk of death or harm to her.

The jury deliberated for just under 15 hours before returning verdicts in all the counts.

Judge Elma Sheahan thanked the jury for their time and consideration. She said she wanted to acknowledge their commitment to the trial and engagement they have had with it.

She remanded the man in continuing custody and adjourned the matter to tomorrow, Thursday, when she will fix a date for sentencing.

During the trial, the woman, now aged 43, gave evidence to the jury via video-link and told the jury she met the man through a mutual friend when she was looking for a place to live. She said they got together shortly before she moved into his apartment.

The woman told Kerida Naidoo SC, prosecuting, there “wasn't a particularly nice beginning to the relationship”. She said shortly after they got together, the man stubbed his cigarette out on her foot and burnt it “for no reason”.

The woman alleged the man smashed her phone one day after he came across her talking on her phone while waiting on him. On another occasion, she said he cut her face and neck with a pizza slicer.

As the relationship progressed, the woman said they were together “all day every day”. “I couldn't even walk around the shops on my own,” she said.

The court heard the woman had been working for a company, but her six month contract ended and she was then on social welfare while she looked for work. She said the man took her social welfare money every week. “By Tuesday evening, I wouldn't have a fiver,” she said.

She told the court the man would answer her phone when it rang and her friends eventually stopped calling. “Gradually, we were completely isolated from friends and family,” she said.

The woman described a number of incidents, including that the man threatened to drown her in a river, that he stamped on her head and stamped on her arm, breaking it.

The woman said the man often dragged her around the apartment floor by the hair and punched her. “I had a black eye a couple of times a week,” she said.

She told the court that if the man had taken alcohol, “the smallest, smallest thing would set him off and it always, always escalated into violence”. She agreed that she herself had an alcohol issue that predated her relationship with the man.

The woman said that she recalled one “bad day” in the summer of 2019, when the accused made her sit naked on the couch as he paced up and down calling her names.

“He said I was a disgrace, a waste of space,” she said before she outlined that during the course of that day, he would return her to the couch and make her sit down naked again.

“He would pace up and down in front of me, stand over me, loom over me, threaten me. He threatened to kill my family and make me watch. At one point he said I should have killed you while I had the chance,” the woman continued.

She said he said “I am willing to do time for you”. He then told her that he would kill her father first, “slowly and painfully” and make her watch, before he would move on to her brother and his child and then her other brother and his baby.

“He said he would make me watch. He just wanted to make me suffer,” the woman told the jury.

During their relationship, the woman said she spent periods in Women's Aid shelters. After she spent a night with another man in a hotel, she said the man made her phone every member of her family and tell them she was a “cheating tramp”.

She said after the man broke her arm, hospital staff alerted gardaí and she gave a statement to them.

The court heard the man later told the woman he would circulate naked images and videos he had of her on the internet and send them to her family if she didn't withdraw the allegations against him.

“I was extremely distressed over that,” the woman said.

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