Man jailed for assaulting public health nurse

A man who viciously assaulted a public health nurse while she was visiting his three-month old son has been given a 40 month sentence.

John Cash (aged 35) who had consumed a concoction of alcohol and mephedrone, a cocaine substitute, got into a paranoid state and believed his son was being taken away from him.

The victim, Nurse Marie Duignam, said she has now been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has been deemed not medically fit to return to work.

She said after the unprovoked attack she thought her “brains would be left on the floor” and cannot see herself working at community level nursing anymore “due to this man’s actions.”

Cash of Catherine’s Gate, Parnell Road in Dublin pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Ms Duignam on December 21, 2010 at his home.

Garda Tom Wafer told prosecuting counsel, Maurice Coffey BL, Ms Duignam had visited Cash, his partner and their baby to enquire about food supplies and the baby’s health as there was a bad snowfall at the time.

When Cash let Ms Duignam in, she noticed his partner coming from the bathroom crying. They both explained to the nurse that they had just had an argument over a broken mobile phone.

“Cash became paranoid then as he thought Ms Duignam was taking the side of his partner and told her to go away,” said Gda Wafer.

“He put their baby on the couch and grabbed Ms Duignam’s hair before hitting her in the face.”

Ms Duignam fell to the ground and Cash kicked her in the head. She tried to grab her phone but Cash attacked her again, hitting her in the head.

He then walked out of house before gardaí arrived to bring Ms Duignam to hospital where she received treatment for soft tissue facial injuries, chipped teeth and bruising.

In a letter of apology to Ms Duignam, Cash, who has 46 previous convictions, said she was “nothing but kind to me and I thought my son was being taken. When I sobered up I realised I was just imagining this and I apologise. Ms Duignam was going above and beyond her duty for my family.”

Shane Costelloe BL, defending, said Cash has a history of drug abuse but this is no explanation for his behaviour.

“It was unpremeditated and spontaneous and he was in the throes of drugs and alcohol which is not an excuse but may explain the incident,” said Mr Costelloe.

Judge Martin Nolan said the incident was “a vicious assault and merciless attack on a defenceless woman who was doing her job.”


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