An eight-year jail sentence was imposed yesterday on a Cork man who dragged his wife out of bed by her ponytail and then threw her and kicked her down the stairs leaving her with catastrophic life-changing injuries.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed the eight-year sentence on 42-year-old Anthony Kelleher on the charge of assault causing serious harm to Siobhán Kelleher, aged 36, at the family home in Curraheen, Raleigh North, Macroom, Co Cork, on June 12, 2014.
The violence stemmed from a row about — among other things — the pork chops that were served for that day’s dinner.
The sentence was backdated to February 24, the day the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict against him.
Siobhán Lankford, barrister for the prosecution, said yesterday the Director of Public Prosecutions put the particular serious assault count at the upper end of the scale of such crimes.
Tom Creed defence senior counsel said Anthony Kelleher maintained his innocence.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said the evidence showed that: “The accused came home from work, got into a tizzy, words were exchanged. Knowing and fearing the situation, Siohán Kelleher withdrew to the bedroom and he unwisely followed her up and got into a row.
“He tore her out of bed and pushed her down the stairs kicking her on the way as a result of which she suffered serious life-changing injuries.”
Anthony Kelleher chose not to give evidence in his trial. A more unusual feature of the case was that Mrs Kelleher — in effect — did not testify either but the prosecution went on in the absence of oral testimony.
Mrs Kelleher, who now walks very slowly with the assistance of a walking stick, initially made statements that her husband attacked her that day but later said she was withdrawing the complaint and explained that she was injured when she fell at the clothesline after drinking too much wine.
Following legal argument in the absence of the jury the prosecution was allowed to go ahead by presenting to the jury three statements taken down in writing from Mrs Kelleher following June 12, 2014.
Four days afterwards from a hospital bed at Cork University Hospital, she said: “Last Thursday, June 12, 2014, my husband came home from work at about 5.15pm. I had a glass of wine before Anthony came home to calm my nerves. He started ranting and raving and said I was staggering around. I went to bed for an hour.
“Anthony dragged me out of bed by the hair and threw me across the corridor and down the stairs. The next thing I knew I woke up in hospital.”
She added in a second statement: “We were having pork chops that day. I put the dinner on the table. He would never say thanks. He complained that the pork chops were cooked in the oven. He wanted them fried. He is a perfectionist.
“[After a brief exchange of words] I went to bed and covered my head with the blankets. He came after me and asked me what did I say. I said, ‘Nothing, I’m sorry’. I put my hands to my face to save my head. I didn’t want bruises.
“I had my hair in a ponytail and he pulled me out of bed by the ponytail. There were clumps of hair coming out. He dragged me by the hair and threw me down the stairs.
“He kicked me on the way down twice in the ass. I got to the first landing and he kicked me the rest of the way down. I was out cold and I don’t remember anything else until I woke in hospital with a tube down my throat.
“Anthony came into the hospital with my slippers and pyjamas. He started crying and said, ’If you had died I would have thrown myself in the river’. I couldn’t look at him.”
In her third statement 10 months later she withdrew the previous two statements against her husband, and said she fell at the clothesline, that her husband never laid a hand on her, and she apologised to him.
Anthony Kelleher also made statements to gardaí. He said: “I believed she had a drink problem. Siobhán fell down the stairs at our home. She smokes an odd cigarette now and again. She would get very unsteady on her feet… if she has a cigarette. [Later] She fell against the wall.”
He denied beating his wife within an inch of her life.
Det Sgt Joanne O’Brien said Siobhán Kelleher’s injuries included numerous fractures to her ribs, spine, finger, wrist and arm, a potentially fatal laceration to her liver and bruising to buttocks, thighs, trunk, and abrasions to her face and she went on to suffer a stroke.
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