'He has lost his mind, don't text again': Man sentenced for assaulting and falsely imprisoning girlfriend

'He has lost his mind, don't text again': Man sentenced for assaulting and falsely imprisoning girlfriend

"I am in the bathroom," read one text message read out in court by the judge. "I can't go out because he won't let me go anywhere."

Another said: "He threw loads of coke at me and said I could never afford that." Another read: "Mike is fucked. He has lost his mind. He is on coke, like." And another text: "This is scary. Don't text again. I am scared."

The sender of the texts was Sophie Tobin, then seven months pregnant, to her friend, Sonia Thompson. At Skibbereen District Court she claimed that Michael Casey, her then on-off partner of less than a year, had assaulted her at his home and had falsely imprisoned her there over a number of hours, charges he denied.

Ms Tobin, now 23, had been in a relationship with Mr Casey, now 39, who at the time had been separated from his ex-wife. The alleged offences occurred in the early hours of November 18, 2018, after Mr Casey, of Coorangannive, Skibbereen, had returned home from a family christening in Bantry.

Ms Tobin told Judge James McNulty that she had wanted to speak to Mr Casey as the father of her child, and was dropped late at the christening, which had been going on all day. She said she had one glass of wine, was dropped back to Skibbereen, and then dropped to Michael's house.

Once his brothers left she said they had a row after Mr Casey began taking cocaine in front of her. She said she told him he would not see the baby if he was taking drugs.

She said Mr Casey locked the door and took the key. "I was scared of him," she said, adding that he was "very aggressive" and she locked herself in the bathroom.

At one point she said she tried to climb out a window but he pulled her back in by her legs. She said Mr Casey threw Peruvian cocaine in front of her and said she would never be able to afford it.

He drew an imaginary line on the floor and told her she was not to pass it, she told the judge. She said when they were outside at one point Mr Casey pinned her to the ground and threatened to throw her into the river.

When he offered to drive her home she got into the back seat and she said she was "half in the car, half out of the car" as he drove a short distance before stopping.

Ms Thompson, giving evidence, said she used another phone to make audio recordings of what she could hear as Ms Tobin was on the phone. Some of those recordings were played in court.

Independent witness Daniel Ring, who went with others to collect Ms Tobin, said she was "hysterical" and disorientated, claiming Mr Casey had been attacking her. When he was present Mr Ring said Mr Casey was "not aggressive in any way".

In his evidence, Mr Casey denied Ms Tobin's version of events. "The only time I touched her was when she was trying to jump from the car," he said.

Mr Casey said he locked the door but left the key in it, and he said his bathroom door doesn't lock and that the window Ms Tobin claimed she was trying to climb through only opened a few inches.

He admitted being angry with her but only because she was shouting and roaring. He said he had told her she could leave any time, but he was not going to let her walk home in the dark.

He said he did not know how she got bruising on her body, photos of which were showed to the judge, and said they had not spoken since this incident as Ms Tobin was "absolutely crazy".

Mr Casey said Ms Tobin had been "absolutely langers" on the night in question.

The judge said Ms Tobin was a credible witness and sentenced Casey, who had 12 previous convictions including three currently under appeal, to 12 months on the assault charge and to another 12 months for false imprisonment. The judge said, as there were "exceptional aggravating circumstances", those sentences should be served consecutively.

"One of the aggravating factors is that he has attempted in his evidence to make a liar of this woman in a manner which is unworthy and unfair," Judge McNulty said.

For a man who was high on cocaine, after a feed of drink, it's a bit rich for him to say she was erratic.

Michael Casey lodged an appeal, with the judge attaching conditions including that there be no communication with the injured party or any state or potential state witnesses, and that he comply with any requests within three hours from gardaí for an oral fluid test for the presence of drugs.

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