The case was heard in Kilmallock Court
A MUM said she feared her former partner “would kill me” and her daughter or “harm us” on Halloween night.
“I did fear what he was capable of,” said the woman, in Kilmallock Court.
A man in his forties was found guilty of false imprisonment of a woman in a house in County Limerick on Saturday, October 31, 2015. None of the parties have been named to protect the identity of the child.
Serge ant Michael Brennan said at around 9pm he responded to a call from the home.
“When I arrived I tried to gain access. The front gate was chained and padlocked so I climbed over a fence. There was a lady inside the living room window gesturing at me. There were two cars parked outside. One was parked particularly tight against the other.
“I went to the window and asked her to open the door. She explained it was locked from the outside. She said the windows were locked. She said there was an argument with her ex-partner a short time earlier and he had driven away. I sensed from the conversation that the situation was unsafe,” said Sgt Brennan, who walked around the house to try and gain access.
“ Windows and other doors were locked and secured. There was a small window I was able to open. I had to take off my stab vest and belt to get into the house. She was distraught and frightened. Her daughter appeared and my first impression was she looked very sick,” said Sgt Brennan.
With the help of garda colleagues the woman and her daughter, who is aged under 10, were taken out of the same window and brought to “a place of safety”.
Jack Nicholas BL, representing the defendant who denied the false imprisonment charge, asked Sgt Brennan how he gained access to the house?
“The top of the window was open. I reached in and opened the handle,” said Sgt Brennan.
“The window could be opened from the inside?” asked Mr Nicholas. “Yes,” said Sgt Brennan.
“It wasn’t locked?” said Mr Nicholas. “No,” said Sgt Brennan.
Mr Nicholas put it to Sgt Brennan that the woman could have opened the window and that she was having a bipolar episode.
Sgt Brennan said he found it difficult to open and that his assessment was that she was upset and distraught.
Regar ding the child being sick, Mr Nicholas said the defendant will say his daughter was fit and well and will produce a photo of her trick or treating.
“She appeared sick to me – she was pale, skin was pasty, hair matted. I have children,” said Sgt Brennan.
The complainant took the stand and said she rang Shannon Doc in the early hours of Saturday morning and the advice was to keep the child inside but the accused wanted to bring her trick or treating later that evening.
“He said he would put me out if I didn’t let her go. I was very upset. When they came back at 7.30 I had moved personal belongings and toys bought by me. He told me to give the stuff back by morning or he would f*** me out of the house. He put his car in front of my car. He started locking inside doors – I was terrified. He locked the front door and drove off,” said the injured party.
“The side door was left open on Thursday night and Friday night [when the defendant left the house],” she added.
Answe ring questions from Sgt Michelle Leahy, the woman said she couldn’t get out any door as they were locked.
“I was very frightened he would kill me and [her daughter’s name] or harm us. I did fear what he was capable of,” said the woman.
Mr Nicholas said legally she was not supposed to be in the house because of the access order.
He accused her of making the child’s sickness up.
“ Completely false,” she said. She also denied having a bipolar episode on the night.
Mr Nicholas asked for the false imprisonment charge to be dismissed because Sgt Brennan was able to open the window.
“She could leave if she wanted,” said Mr Nicholas.
Sgt Leahy said the woman was unable to leave the house without the assistance of gardai.
“His purpose was to stop her leaving the house. He locked the doors, blocked her car and locked the gate,” said Sgt Leahy.
Judge Marian O’Leary held with the State.
A mother of one of the children who the victim’s daughter went trick or treating with gave evidence of the child being “full of energy” and not sick on the evening.
The last witness was the defendant who said he called on October 29, 2015 to collect the child to bring her to his home in County Limerick.
The previous day the child’s mother told the man their daughter was sick and not to come. He spoke to his daughter on the phone and she said she was sick on Monday but was “now fine”.
On Thursday, he went to collect her and took his daughter’s temperature and blood pressure.
“Her vital signs were normal,” he said. His former partner said she was coming too because she said the child was sick. He said “no” but later agreed she could come.
After taking the child trick or treating on Saturday night he returned home and saw that his former partner had removed toys from the house.
“I asked her to bring them back. [Child’s name] was pleading to have them back. She [ex-partner] told me to feck off. There was no fear in it either,” he said. The defendant admitted to parking his car in front of her’s.
“I wanted to stop her taking the toys. She laughed at me. She was downright spiteful,” he said.
Regar ding locking the complainant in, he said the back and side doors are always locked and he locked his front door as normal when he was leaving.
He told Judge O’Leary that months earlier he had tenants who didn’t pay rent, broke the side door key and he was threatened by a relative of theirs.
He said after one of the later garda interviews he checked the windows in his house and found only one was locked.
Sgt Leahy asked him if he thought his former partner was having a paranoia episode why did he leave his daughter with her.
“She is a good mother. It doesn’t stop her being a good person,” he said.
Judge O’Leary said the evidence was “conflicting on many matters”. She said the only matter before her was whether the woman was falsely imprisoned or not.
“I find the State have proven their case. She was not free to leave the property therefore I find the defendant guilty,” said Judge O’Leary. “Obviously they are both very good parents - that has shone through for me,” added the judge.
If the guilty party paid €200 to the court poor box Judge O’Leary said she would apply the Probation Act. The money was handed into court.