Two sisters who assaulted a woman in front of her baby son have been ordered to complete community service hours in lieu of prison sentences.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Shauna (aged 25) and Nicola (aged 27) Culligan engaged in an “extremely nasty incident of violence” over a man who had been involved in a relationship with the injured party and one of the accused.
Shauna Culligan of Heather Court, Stepaside Park, Dublin, pleaded guilty to assault and assault causing harm outside SuperValu, Balally shopping centre, Dublin on November 18, 2016.
Nicola Culligan of Granite Court, Stepaside Park, also pleaded guilty to assault causing harm on the same occasion.
Passing sentence today, Judge Melanie Greally said there was a backdrop of “considerable hostility” between the parties which had spilled over into an “extremely nasty incident of violence”.
The judge said it remained a matter of concern that there was still “animosity and a grievance” there.
Judge Greally handed down a 12-month probation bond to each sister, ordering Nicola to complete 240 hours of community service, within that period, in lieu of two years’ imprisonment. Shauna was ordered to complete 200 hours’ community service, in lieu of 18 months in prison.
Both sisters were also told to engage in offence-focused and victim-focused work as directed by Probation Services, and also to undergo anger management awareness and intervention training.
Garda Padraig McCormack told Grainne O'Neill BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question the injured party had just picked up her son and was out on the street when she saw Shauna Culligan running towards her.
Gda McCormack said that Shauna Culligan grabbed the woman's head, tried to pull her down and punched her in the jaw. The woman went back to her car which was parked outside a nearby SuperValu and put her baby in the back seat.
She attempted to drive away, but Shauna Culligan opened the door and pulled the keys from the ignition. The woman begged not to be attacked while she had her baby with her.
Gda McCormack said that both Shauna Culligan and her sister Nicola punched her in the car and pushed her head down. The baby started crying and Nicola Culligan shouted back at the baby: “I don't give a fuck".
The woman got out of the car and carried her baby with her down a laneway. Both Culligan sisters followed, hitting her again before the woman escaped into the SuperValu.
In a victim impact statement which was read out in the court, the woman said she had been more afraid for her son than herself during the incident. She said she still feels vulnerable and that threats against her have not stopped.
Shauna Culligan has no previous convictions, while Nicola has some minor convictions for road offences.
Judge Greally said an aggravating factor of the assaults was that the injured party had been with her young son. She said the incident had undoubtedly been very distressing for the injured party and had had “enduring consequences” in terms of its psychological effects on her lifestyle and employment.
The judge gave the Culligans credit for their very early pleas of guilty, for the fact that they were both mothers of young children, and because they had not had easy childhoods
Judge Greally also took into account that there had been “extremely bad feeling” between the parties.