Estranged couple advised to ‘work out the rules of engagement’

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

Judge Mary Larkin
A JUDGE has advised two parents who were in court over a breach of a safety order “to sit down and work out the rules of engagement” to avoid “doing the Palestinians and the Israelis”.

A JUDGE has advised two parents who were in court over a breach of a safety order “to sit down and work out the rules of engagement” to avoid “doing the Palestinians and the Israelis”.

A 34-year-old man with an address in Limerick city was before Newcastle West Court charged with breach of a barring/interim barring/protection order at an address in county Limerick on May 13 last.

The court heard that the injured party had a safety order issued in July, 2013 against her ex-partner.

The injured party told the court that on the evening of May 13, 2015 she was at the front of her home and her current partner was putting oil in her car when the accused arrived at the property.

The woman said her ex-partner walked over in an “aggressive manner”.

“I walked into the house and brought the kids with me and told them to stay in the house,” the woman told the court.

“I came back out and I asked him to leave,” she added.

The court heard that after the accused left, the woman’s current partner then went home and she left the children with neighbours before driving to her local garda station “but there was nobody there”.

She said that on driving back into her estate she observed that her current partner was following behind her. The woman claimed she phoned another garda station and while she was explaining that she had a safety order in respect of her ex-partner, the accused walked over and starting shouting and pushing the car door.

“I walked to the front door of the house and he put his foot in the front door and his hand on the door and said ‘you’ll be f***ing sorry’,” said the woman.

When asked by Inspector Brian O’Donovan how she felt at that stage, the woman replied: “I felt threatened. I just wanted to close the door and get into the kids.”

The court heard that there was no reason for the accused to be there at that time and that he had breached the safety order in place.

The injured party said the accused hadn’t phoned or texted to say he would be calling. Solicitor for the accused, Michael O’Donnell, asked: “How could he phone or text when you blocked the number?”

The woman said she blocked the number after that day. The court heard the couple had been together for 12 years.

Under cross examination from Mr O’Donnell, the woman said she never denied her partner access to their children. The injured party said her ex-partner is “a very aggressive person”.

“I wouldn’t be here today if he wasn’t,” she said.

Mr O’Donnell asked the woman if the children ever came back from spending time with their father and spoke about his aggression. The woman said they hadn’t. “He is good with the children?” Mr O’Donnell enquired.

“He is good with the children,” the woman replied before pointing out that in relation to the charge before the court, the man had “tried to start a fight in front of the kids. “You don’t do that,” she said.

A garda who attended at the scene of the incident on May 13 said the injured party seemed scared and expressed her worry that her ex-partner would return.

In his evidence, the accused said he last saw the children two weeks prior to May 13, 2015.

He said he would contact his ex-partner via text message and he would collect the children at her house.

He said he was unable to contact his ex-partner for the two weeks prior to May 13. He denied saying the words “You’ll be f***ing sorry”.

“I never laid a hand on that girl. I was with her 13 years. I didn’t kill her or touch her,” he said.

He said while there is a safety order in place, he would pick up the children “no problem” and would pay maintenance on a weekly basis. “I have the statements to prove it,” he said. He denied he acted in an aggressive manner on May 13.

“I wanted to speak to the kids. I wanted to ask her why I couldn’t see the kids,” he said, before denying that he threatened his ex-partner.

Inspector Brian O’Donovan put it to the accused: “You obviously love your kids?”

“Yes,” the accused replied.

When asked if he would be upset if he didn’t get to see the children, the accused said he would be.

Under cross examination from Insp O’Donovan, the accused said he had been breaching the safety order for weeks before May 13, when collecting the children “and she had no problem with that”.

Judge Mary Larkin convicted the accused of the offence. The court heard that the accused had one previous conviction for drink driving dating back to 2009.

Judge Larkin said: “I cannot abide violence towards women and violence and aggression in front of children.”

She adjourned the matter until April and said that if the accused behaved himself she would “take a certain course”.

Judge Larkin urged the two parties to learn to have a working relationship. “You sit down and you work out the rules of engagement. We don’t want to be doing the Palestinians and the Israelis - we have to get to a situation where we live together and I’m also thinking of your children. You don’t want their daddy to have a conviction for something like this.”