By Tom Tuite
An alcoholic father, who kicked his teenage daughter in the face after she confronted him about his drinking, has been given a nine-month suspended sentence.
Dublin District Court was told he attacked her again with a punch in the face in front of gardaí when they were called out to deal with the domestic violence incident.
They also had to use a pepper spray to arrest the man, who admitted he did not know how many drinks he had taken during a binge that night.
The man, who is in his 40s, pleaded guilty to assault and a more serous offence of assault causing harm to the 16-year-old girl at their north Dublin home on a date last year. He cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim who is a minor.
He also admitted obstructing a garda during the incident. At the sentence hearing, Judge Bryan Smyth noted the girl did not want to give a victim impact statement.
Defence counsel Simon Matthews said the daughter and their family had given the man another chance. Social services have become involved and his client was apologetic.
Describing the evidence as “a fairly appalling set of facts”, Judge Smyth asked the defence was there any reason why the accused should not be sent to prison.
Judge Smyth said the fact it happened in the family did not excuse it and in many instances that was an aggravating factor.
Mr Matthews said the man, who did not address the court, “was drinking a huge amount and had not been acting himself”. He had no previous conviction for assault and had suffered health problems, the barrister said.
The girl was not present for sentencing but counsel said the teen had come to an earlier hearing and had said her father was a changed man. The barrister said his client has not drunk since the attack.
Judge Smyth imposed a nine-month sentence on the assault causing harm charge and a three-month sentence for the less serious assault charge. However, he suspended them on condition that the man kept the peace and did not re-offend for the next two years.
The man spoke once saying “it is indeed” to confirm his signature on his good behaviour bond.
In evidence, Garda Adrian O’Hanlon said the girl arrived home on the night of the attack and there was an argument with her father over alcohol. She took two cans from the fridge and went to her bedroom.
The father followed her to her room where he took the cans back and “kicked her in the face causing her nose and mouth to bleed”.
Gardaí were called and when they were taking a report in the kitchen the man entered and was “very erratic”.
“After two minutes calming him down he asked to go back to his bedroom to retrieve a T-shirt,” the garda said, adding that the accused passed by the girl and “struck her with a closed fist in the face in front of gardaí”.
He remained violent and it continued outside the house until gardaí had to use an incapacitant spray, the court was told.
The man, who has several children, already had nine prior criminal convictions for motoring offences.
Pleading for leniency the defence said the “highly embarrassed” man had a severe alcohol dependency for some time which caused difficulty for his health and he was on medication. He has sought help for his drink problem, the court heard.
Counsel said on the night of the drink-fuelled attack the man “freely admits he doesn’t know how many he had”.
The defence had given advance notice of the guilty plea so the girl was not required to give evidence in court against her father.
His barrister said he still lived in the family home but “would not have been surprised if he not been allowed back in and was thrown out”. Counsel said the family put up with him which is why he resolved to address his issue and this incident made him turn his back on alcohol.