A woman whose ex-partner attacked her, breaking several bones in her face and tearing out clumps of her hair has told a court that the “terror and torture” she suffered would be with her forever.
John Brennan (44) of Dun Emer Place, Lusk, Dublin, was sentenced to three years in prison with the final 12 months suspended today.
The father-of-one pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm of his then-girlfriend at his home on August 31, 2014. He has one previous drink-driving conviction.
The court heard that Brennan hit the woman after a verbal disagreement. She tried to take refuge in his car, but he struck her head off the steering wheel, dragged her by her hair from the car, back inside the house, and continued to punch her in the face until she managed to escape.
In a victim impact statement read out in court on her behalf, the woman said she remembered the first punch to her face as clearly as if it were yesterday.
I remember the bones in my face cracking and the blood rushing, I was in agony and could hardly move.
She said that afterwards she couldn't eat for months due to her broken facial bones and the stitches in her mouth, and was completely dependent on the care of her son.
The woman said she was once a strong, independent person who raised her three children alone and worked as a nurse caring for sick people, but that now she was on medication and couldn't make plans. She said she just gets through each day, one at a time.
“I really thought he was going to kill me,” she said.
Judge Melanie Greally set a headline sentence of four years but reduced it on account of Brennan's early guilty plea, his previous good character, his expressions of remorse and his good employment record.
The judge pointed out that due to an administrative error on the part of the gardaí, there was a significant delay in bringing the case to court, leaving Brennan with a reasonable expectation that no action was going to be taken.
Judge Greally said it was unfortunate that the victim was subjected to a lengthy and anxious wait for court proceedings and she hoped the conclusion of the case would help in her recovery.
The judge noted that while the woman still had some residual physical consequences including back pain, the most lasting and serious effect had been on her mental health.
The court heard that the woman suffers from severe anxiety, panic attacks, night terrors and flashbacks where she remembers being punched and hearing her bones crack.
“She lives with those memories and finds it extremely difficult to shed them,” said the judge.