Limerick woman tells court of ‘mental and physical torture’ by husband

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Email:

donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

Limerick woman tells court of ‘mental and physical torture’ by husband

Kilmallock Courthouse

A COUNTY Limerick woman has told Kilmallock Court how she stood up to her husband for the first time after years of “mental and physical torture”.

Her husband was before the court for breaching a protection order on September 3, 2018. He pleaded not guilty.

The woman took the stand.

She said on her way home from work she had a lot of missed calls from her husband.

“I listened to the messages. I knew he was drunk. He is an alcoholic for a long time,” she said.

The court heard that they live in separate properties on a farm in County Limerick.

“I came home at 7.30pm. I knew he was in there as I saw he had forced the window. He was sitting in the sitting room watching TV. I stayed in the kitchen and started cooking the dinner. He was giving out to me for not answering his phone calls. He was very drunk.

“He said, ‘I will go where I want to’. I am used to handling him when he is drunk but I could see he had lost it in his eyes. He started banging the table. I took the vegetable scrapings out as I knew he was going to put his hands on me,” said the woman.

She said she “hated ringing gardai but I had no one else to call”.

“They said they would send a guard and he would ring for directions when he was close. I said not to call because he will know gardai are coming. He threatened before that he was going to kill me. He had a penknife in his pocket. I was just terrified,” said the woman.

Answering questions from the defendant’s solicitor, Denis Linehan, the woman said she left her husband in February 2015.

After he sought treatment for alcoholism and was sober she returned to him in 2016 but when he started drinking again in 2017 she asked him to move out.

Mr Linehan asked who owns the house?

“He owns the house. We live in two separate houses,” she replied.

Mr Linehan put it to her that he was entitled to be in the house. “Yes,” she said.

Mr Linehan said when she came home she saw the window was open and knew he was in.

“Yes. He came from the sitting room into the kitchen. I was losing control of the situation. I had never seen him like that. I am a fit woman but he is much bigger than me,” said the woman.

Mr Linehan asked if there was any violence?

“No. It was verbal and banging the table and door. I have lived with it for years. I was terrified,” said the woman.

Mr Linehan put it to her that she “overreacted completely”.

“No. I could see it in his eyes that he was possessed with anger. He banged on the table and banged on the door. He was going to put his hands on me but I walked away. I was scared.

“I rang the guards. I have taken abuse for decades. There is an anger inside him that spills out with drink. I am the butt of that,” said the woman.

Mr Linehan said it was the first time she had made a criminal complaint.

“It was the first time I have been able to stand up to him. I’m an intelligent woman but I was a stupid eejit. He was always so manipulative,” said the woman.

“She added: “The day I went in for the order under the Domestic Violence Act - I thought domestic violence only happened in places in the city and not in our middle class society. The peace I have had since I got the protection order two years ago is unreal. It had been mental and physical torture. It is the first time I have had peace,” said the woman.

Mr Linehan asked the woman about selling her husband’s cattle without his knowledge.

“I got a phone call from a neighbour to say there was cattle out on the road. It was dusk. I told my husband and he said, ‘I don’t give a f**k about the cattle’. They were always breaking out. The neighbour helped me get them back in the field. I sold them rather than they be killed on the road and cause an accident,” said the woman. 

The guard who attended the house on the night, took the stand. He said he responded to a domestic dispute between a wife and a husband who was in breach of a protection order.

“The woman was visibly upset. She informed me he verbally abused her, was giving out about her deceased mother and banging doors. It was clear he had consumed a lot of intoxicating liquor.

“I arrested him at 9.35pm under the Domestic Violence Act for breaching a protection order. He said, ‘Nobody would put him out of his own home’. He walked away. He entered another room and closed the door. I told him if he didn’t come voluntarily I would be contacting other members of An Garda Siochana to covey him to the station. He did come voluntarily,” said the garda.

Mr Linehan asked him if the situation was calm when he arrived at the house.

“No. She was clearly upset, very upset. He was very intoxicated. I know him probably 10 years and I would have got on OK with him but I felt intimidated. He was aggressive - liable to do anything. You couldn’t drop your guard for fear of reprisals. She was in fear for her life. He was in breach of a protection order,” said the garda.

Mr Linehan told the court that the man wasn't aware of the protection order at the time.

“He couldn’t break an order if he didn’t know about it. It’s a fundamental proof,” said Mr Linehan.

Judge Marian O’Leary said there was no evidence that the husband was aware of the protection order in place.

“I have no choice but to dismiss the case,” said Judge O’Leary.