A 57-year-old man who put his wife in fear during a drunken incident will avoid a prison sentence — if he restricts his drinking to beer and stays clear of spirits.
Judge Con O’Leary said that if the man drinks spirits he will put himself at risk of serving a one-month prison term.
Judge O’Leary imposed the sentence but suspended it on particular terms at an in-camera hearing of Cork District Court dealing with a breach of domestic violence legislation.
The 57-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge of breaching a safety order by putting his wife in fear on May 8 at the family home.
Inspector Conor Dillon outlined what happened.
“The defendant had been drinking all day and returned home at 9pm,” said Insp Dillon. “He kicked the front door and was verbally abusive to his wife. He put her in fear in her own home. He was arrested in the front garden of the house.”
Judge O’Leary then asked the defendant’s wife: “What do you want him to do?”
She replied: “I have nothing against him having a few beers once or twice a week but when spirits come into it, it is a problem.”
Judge O’Leary made the following order: “One month imprisonment suspended on condition that he enters a bond not to consume any alcohol, save beer, for 12 months.”
The judge then turned to the complainant and explained: “I am sentencing him to prison but suspending it on condition he only drinks beer. That is what you are suggesting.”
She replied: “Yes, no problem when he only drinks beer.”
The judge clarified: “And obviously he must be of good behaviour and does not damage his own domestic dwelling and assault or threaten his wife.
"He has to stay off spirits. If he does, he goes to prison — for a short period, but he goes.”
Defence solicitor Shane Collins-Daly said the parties continue to reside together and have reconciled since the incident.
“He is pleading guilty to this offence. He openly admits drink would be an issue but he has cut down hugely in recent years,” he said.
While the defendant had no convictions since 2016 he had a total of 19 convictions for offences including breaches of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act.
Alcohol misuse organisation Alcohol Action Ireland said the court was misguided in attempting to protect the victim.
A spokesman said: “Alcohol, regardless of what product is consumed, will always be a mind altering, psychoactive drug that contributes to a range of harms to others.
However, no matter what level of alcohol was deemed to have been a contributing factor here, it can never be an excuse for exonerating male violence towards women.”