Community service for man who beat partner

A man who beat a woman so badly he left the print of his shoe on her body had his two-year prison term substituted to 240 hours’ community service.

Eamon Harkin beat up then-girlfriend Danielle Kerrigan for more than 90 minutes on St Valentine’s Night two years ago. He only stopped his attack to get a drink of water.

Harkin, aged 24, of St Eunan’s Terrace, Raphoe, Co Donegal, appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court after pleading guilty toassault causing harm to Ms Kerrigan on Feb 14, 2010.

He had been remanded in custody since he first appeared in court two weeks ago.

The court heard that Harkin, a butcher, had locked Ms Kerrigan in the house they shared and then beat her consistently as she cried out for help.

Pictures of Ms Kerrigan’s horrific injuries were shown to the court.

In a victim impact statement on behalf of Ms Kerrigan, the court heard she sometimes cannot look at the young son she had with Harkin because he reminds her of his father.

It also revealed how Ms Kerrigan, who had been training to become a prison officer, can sometimes not leave her house for fear something will happen to her.

Judge John O’Hagan said there was “simply no excuse for assaulting a defenceless woman”.

He said drink was no excuse but he was impressed by the fact Harkin had no previous convictions and had not got into any trouble since.

“You have brought great shame on your family,” said Judge O’Hagan. “But your family have been very supportive and your father said the effect on the family has been devastating.

“He said: ‘The Harkin family don’t do this type of thing,’ ” the judge said.

Judge O’Hagan said if Harkin had not pleaded guilty but been found guilty by a jury, he would have been jailed for between two and three years.

The judge stated: “I sentence you to two years and substitute that to 240 hours community service.”

Deborah O’Flynn, manager of OSS Cork, an information and support service for victims of domestic violence, said she was very disappointed with the sentence.

“While I appreciate that the judge took a guilty plea and good behaviour into account, it seems quite stark to go from a two-year sentence to community service,” said Ms O’Flynn.

“There seems to be a pattern of this sort of thing in the courts at the moment where people are getting minimal or questionable sentences.

“This has a negative impact on people coming forward to report domestic violence. It sets a very bad precedent.”

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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