'No apology is strong enough': Jail for man who kidnapped his former partner

'No apology is strong enough': Jail for man who kidnapped his former partner

A man who kidnapped his former partner after she had left him at the end of a violent relationship has been given a seven year sentence with the final two years suspended.

The Westmeath man was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury of false imprisonment of the woman in November 2015 following a trial last December. He later admitted assaulting her on three occasions while she was pregnant with their children between 2011 and 2015.

The court heard that after leaving the accused man in November 2015 the woman had gone with their children to stay with her sister and taken out a barring order.

The accused man later forcibly removed the woman from the house where she was minding their children and held her against her will until she escaped the following day.

In her victim impact statement the woman outlined how she had suffered “physical and mental torture” during the relationship. She said she had suffered a mental breakdown as a result of the case and her children were no longer living with her but there was a plan for them to be reunited.

She said she had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress and suffers nightmares about the accused man. She said he had controlled everything and made her feel like a prisoner in her mind.

The 28-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty to rape, false imprisonment, and production of an article in November 2015 and three counts of assaulting the woman causing her harm on dates between 2011 and 2015.

The jury at that trial were unable to reach verdicts on the rape and three assault charges.

The man later entered guilty pleas to the three assault charges and production of an article . The Director of Public Prosecutions have entered a nolle prosequi on the rape charge.

Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said it was clear that the events had a traumatic and life changing impact on the woman but noted she was coming to terms with it with the help of counsellors and was working towards being re-united with her children.

She noted that eye witnesses had seen the accused man carry and drag away the woman from her sister's house. She said the woman had been the only responsible adult at the time caring for the children in the house at the time.

Ms Justice Stewart noted that video evidence in the trial showed the car the accused took the woman away in had been driven in a reckless and dangerous manner which at a minimum had been a terrifying ordeal for the woman.

She said due to the way the family had been broken up the children were also victims of the accused man's appalling conduct.

Ms Justice Stewart said the accused had demonstrated insight into the truly awful consequences for the injured party and has now acknowledged his relationship with the woman was over.

She noted in mitigation that the accused man was availing of assistance in custody and had a growing understanding of the “gravity and awfulness” he had engaged in.

She imposed a seven year sentence and suspended the final two years on strict conditions which included not making contact with the woman unless through an authorised third party.

Michael Bowman SC, defending, said the accused man had written a letter of contrition and acknowledged full responsibility as well as the enormity of the wrong he had done. He said the man has committed himself to personal change.

He said the accused man at the time of the false imprisonment would not accept that the relationship was over. He said the he had wanted an opportunity to spend time alone with the woman to convince her that he loved her and wanted one more chance to put things right.

He asked the court to take into account the accused man's age, guilty pleas, family circumstances, the time he has spent in custody since the offence and that he was proactively engaging in rehabilitation.

'No apology is strong enough': Jail for man who kidnapped his former partner

The court heard that the woman was subjected to frequent violence during the relationship. She described being physically assaulted during her pregnancies and one occasion being assaulted the day before her waters broke and she gave birth to one of their children.

“It was a very violent and vicious relationship,” the woman told prosecuting counsel Brendan Grehan SC during the trial. “If I had good days I was over the moon. There weren't many of them.”

She said that she had decided to leave the accused after he told her not to join a local gym because “fellas would be looking at you.” She had some assistance from gardai to go to a refuge and moved from place to place. She also obtained a barring order against him.

The woman gave evidence that in November 2015 she was in her sister's house when the man came in the back door and physically lifted her out of the house.

She said the accused drove her around country roads. She said he was speeding and driving around the wrong side of the road with no lights on. They had nearly hit a lorry when he allegedly told her “you're going to die with me tonight.”

They ended up at the accused's friend's house. At one stage gardaí arrived searching for the accused and he brought her out to the back garden until they left. Later that night the woman managed to make her escape and residents of a nearby house called gardai.

The woman's niece gave evidence during the trial that she ran to neighbour's house to raise the alarm after the accused left with the woman and the gardaí were called.

The sergeant who arrived said that he found a scene of general disorder with children crying. He said it took a long time to figure out what had happened.

The house was kept in very good condition, he said, but there were children everywhere. “Everywhere you looked there was a child,” he told Mr Grehan.

Gardaí could not get in touch with the woman's sister who was out at the time as her phone battery had died.

The sergeant said he and his colleagues got dinner ready for the children, changed their nappies and minded them until the sister came home. He said he later learned the complainant had fled to safety and the accused had been arrested.

The garda agreed with Mr Grehan that the woman said she had been screaming for help during the ordeal and asked the man to let her go. She had been in fear through out and thought she might die.

The woman, in her victim impact statement, said she did not have the children living with her as a result of the case. She said she had a mental breakdown and had to hand her children over to social workers until “I got myself right.”

She said one year of her children's lives had been taken away from her but there was a plan in place for them to be reunited. She said there was a long road ahead to recover.

The woman said she had gone through “physical and mental torture” during the relationship. She said the accused encouraged the children to call her bad names and witnessed him assault her.

She said she had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress and suffers nightmares about the accused man. She said he had controlled everything and made her feel like a prisoner in her mind.

Mr Bowman handed in a letter of apology from the accused man which outlined he was “truly sorry” and said he hoped the woman could move on with her life.

The accused wrote in the letter that “no apology is strong enough.” He said the woman would always be the mother of his children and he would always care for her. He said he hoped the woman would be “strong enough” to forgive him and he could be could be part of his children's lives again.


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