'Daddy is...cutting Mammy' - Judge jails man for attacking wife with knife in front of small children

'Daddy is...cutting Mammy' - Judge jails man for attacking wife with knife in front of small children

A Dublin father who attacked his wife with a knife before turning on his 15-year-old step daughter as she tried to save her mother has been jailed for 18 months.

The court heard the assault on his wife took place in front of small children who ran to get their older sister telling her: “Daddy is downstairs with a knife cutting Mammy.”

The teenage girl ran downstairs and saw the man leaning over her mother with a kitchen knife. As she tried to get him off her mother the man turned his attention on her, hitting her several times.

The family were able to run to a neighbour's house afterwards and gardaí were alerted.

The woman communicated to gardaí that she did not wish for her former partner to be jailed as she did not believe it would be good for him or their children. Victim impact statements were handed into the judge but not read in open court.

The 41-year-old man, who cannot be named to avoid the identification of the child victim, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting his wife and step daughter at the family home on December 3, 2018.

He also pleaded guilty to a further count of assaulting his wife in June 2018.

The man, who has no previous convictions, no longer lives with or has contact with his family.

Judge Martin Nolan noted the man's co-operation with the garda investigation, his full co-operation, remorse and good work history. He said the man had been taking antidepressants but unfortunately also taking alcohol.

He said the woman in this case did not want the man to go to prison and he would have to bear that in mind to some extent, as well as the effect a prison sentence would have on his family.

He said the December assault on his wife and step daughter had been particularly serious but noted there had been an earlier assault on his wife in June. He said that first assault should have been the time when the man changed his ways and sought help but he did not.

Judge Nolan said unfortunately for everyone in order to punish the man and to be a deterrent in general terms there must be a custodial sentence. He imposed 18 months imprisonment.

The prosecuting garda told Sinead McMullen BL, prosecuting, that the woman told gardaí that after a row her husband had dragged her into the kitchen by the hair and tried to strangle her before taking a bread knife. She said he was on top of her with the knife as she tried to fend him off.

The woman said she honestly thought she was going to be killed. She managed to bend the blade of the knife during the assault.

Three small children were witnesses to the assault and ran upstairs to get the 15-year-old girl who was the eldest child. The girl came down and saw the man over her mother with a knife. She believed the knife was in her mother and began boxing the man to get him off her.

As she continued to try and get him off her mother the man turned his attention to her and began boxing her on the head. She said she was struck four times by the man. This was also witnessed by the small children.

Her mother had already left and ran to a neighbour's house. The girl got the children out of the house and said her last image of the man was him standing in the kitchen with the knife.

Gardaí were alerted and attended at the neighbour's house where the woman and children were.

The prosecuting garda said they were made aware that there had been an earlier assault in June 2018 when the accused man had pushed his wife against a wall and bitten her on the shoulder.

Gardaí went to the family's home and found the man sitting on the couch with blood on his hands. He made full admissions to assaulting his wife.

David Staunton BL, defending, said the man was “appallingly ashamed” of his actions.

Mr Staunton said the man had been made redundant and a decision was made he would stay at home to mind the children while his wife went out to work. He said the man was prepared to do this but found it extremely difficult and stressful, leading to a bout of depression.

He said the man did not deal with the stress appropriately and the relationship with his wife began breaking down. He was placed on anti-depressant medication but was also abusing alcohol.

Counsel said the man had adhered to all that was required of him in relation to bail conditions and contact with his family but not seeing his children had been a huge source of stress to him.

He said the man wished to return to having an active role in his children's lives. He asked the court to consider the impact a custodial sentence would have on his family, as alluded to by his wife.

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